As excruciating as gout flares can be1, it’s almost as painful to watch someone else suffer with them—especially someone you care about. Fortunately, there are many ways to provide support and help make life better for someone with gout. Read on to learn more about caring for your loved one with gout.
Learn about the disease
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis caused by excess uric acid in the bloodstream.1 When the uric acid reaches a certain level, urate crystals can form in the joints.1 Eventually, these crystals can cause bouts of swelling, redness and intense pain called flares.1
Gout flares usually come on quickly—often in the middle of the night—and the resulting discomfort can linger for several days.1 After the first flare, 62 percent of people will experience another one within the year and 78 percent will experience another one within the next two years.2 Without treatment, gout flares become more severe and affect more than one joint at a time.3
Recognize that heredity may be a factor
Although gout historically has been considered a disease of excess, this notion may not necessarily be accurate. Recent research conducted in Taiwan and Japan found that heredity contributes more to your risk of gout than diet.4,5 Unfortunately, however, many people with gout are stigmatized due to the misconception that the disease is caused by eating and drinking too much.6 For some, the shame associated with the disease prevents them from seeking the medical help they need.6
Encourage healthy habits
One important way to support your loved one with gout is to encourage him or her to embrace a healthy lifestyle.7 Ask your loved one to join you for a walk.7 Cook a healthy meal you’ll both enjoy.7 And if you live together, stock your kitchen with healthy foods and beverages.7 Although genetics play a big role in the development of gout, adopting a healthy lifestyle is key to living better with the disease.4,5,7
Visit the doctor
Although more than 8 million Americans suffer with gout, only about 10 percent of them actually receive the gout treatment they need.8 If your loved one suspects he or she has gout but has not yet been diagnosed, suggest a visit to the doctor. Help him or her prepare for the appointment by downloading and completing the Gout Flare Questionnaire (from resources for patients). You might also encourage your loved one to ask the doctor these questions:
- What is my serum uric acid level?
- What can I do to help control my uric acid level?
- Is there any way to prevent gout flares?
- What can I do to prevent my gout from getting worse?
Lasting changes don’t usually happen overnight, so patience is key. Your support is also important. Encourage your loved one to take the process one step at a time. And above all, be sure to acknowledge their efforts and celebrate their achievements along the way.
NOTE: This article was not written by a medical professional and is not intended to substitute for the guidance of a physician. These are not Hikma’s recommendations for gout flare prevention, but rather facts and data collected from various reliable medical sources. For a full list of resources and their attributing links, see below.