When I wrote the “Welcome” page, I had forgotten about gout. How could anyone forget? It’s very painful, but it comes and goes. Even if it didn’t have such an unattractive name, I still wouldn’t want to remember it.

Gout attacks the joints, notably the base of the big toe, but it can attact ankles and elbows. Gout goes after men more than women, although my mom suffered with it, and gout likes those people whose ancestors have had gout. Gout goes after the overweight and those who lose weight quickly. It is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream. The excess acid can build up as urate crystals in the joints, which causes swelling, redness, and pain. The painful episodes come and go, and a flare up usually lasts one to two weeks.

This is my third episode. The first was a couple of years ago. It wasn’t all that bad, and it went away before I even knew what it was. The second was very painful, painful enough to send me to the doctor for a diagnosis. My third started yesterday. Now I remember.

Excess uric acid can happen if your kidneys are not functioning well. I don’t even want to think about that. It also happens if you eat a lot of foods containing purines. Purines are found in high concentration in certain foods such as organ meats (not a problem), anchovies and sardines (I can give them up), and sweetbreads (I don’t even know what they are). Purines are found in moderate concentrations in many other foods. The ones I tend to eat are beef, chicken, pork, turkey, gravies, halibut, trout, tuna, shellfish, beans, mushrooms and peas. There are others like oatmeal and lamb, but those aren’t foods I might miss.

Virtually all foods have purines in them, but cutting out and cutting back on the high-purine foods should limit the flare-ups. Drinking lots of water is supposed to help clear out the affected joint. Some believe that diuretics (which would include caffeine), fructose, and maybe white bread might contribute to episodes. Anti-infammatories (Advil, Aleve, etc.) help with the pain, if the pain isn’t too bad. Soaking in Epsom Salts is thought to help.

If I figure anything out as I try different treatments, I’ll let you know.