How to Support Someone with Gout

• Written by Katie

This article was contributed by Samantha Jones

Gout is a form of arthritis that causes tiny crystals to form in and around the joints due to a build-up of uric acid in the blood. This leads to sudden and severe pain that flares up and dissipates over the course of a few days or weeks. Joints tend to become swollen, red, and hot during these flare-ups, which are known as “gout attacks”. Commonly, gout affects the big toe, but it can occur elsewhere.

It’s important to keep gout attacks to a minimum to avoid the risk of complications. These can include permanent joint damage, kidney stones, bone erosions, and tophi. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes that patients can make to reduce the risk of new gout attacks. It can be helpful for their partners, family members, and friends to support them in making these changes. If you know someone with gout and want to help them protect their health, here are five ways to support them.

1. Cook for their dietary needs

Adopting a healthy diet is an important way for people with gout to manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of gout attacks. You can support them by learning about their dietary needs and helping them to prepare suitable meals.

By adopting the same healthy diet, you can enjoy the benefits of better health for yourself while motivating your loved one to stick with it. A gout diet is designed to minimise intake of foods that contain purines. This is because purines cause the body to produce uric acid. It is also designed to aid weight loss, reducing pressure on the joints. Purine-rich foods to avoid include red meat, offal, and seafood. Sugar, sodium, and saturated fat should also be carefully limited. It’s important to eat a healthy balance of vegetables, legumes, fruits, lean white meat such as chicken and turkey, eggs, nuts and seeds, wholegrains, and low-fat dairy products. You can find out more about eating a healthy diet by reading our Eatwell guide.

2. Offer to give up alcohol with them

Alcohol is proven to be a trigger for gout attacks. Despite anecdotal evidence that some types of alcohol are better for gout than others, research suggests that wine, beer, and spirits are all equally likely to increase the risk of an attack. Some people can drink in moderation with gout. Others find that giving up alcohol completely is necessary. In the case of the latter, it can be supportive for family or friends to join them in giving up alcohol, or limit alcohol consumption when around them. This can make it easier for someone to change their drinking habits.

3. Exercise with them

Gout can make physical activity difficult because it affects the joints and causes pain. However, regular exercise is important as it helps keep the body healthy and keep gout attacks at bay. To minimise discomfort, it’s important to choose exercise that doesn’t put pressure on the joints. Examples include walking and cyclingSwimming is also a particularly good activity for people with gout because water takes pressure off joints.

Since people with gout can have a hard time getting out and about due to limitations in their movement, they may need practical support when doing exercise. Offering to do the activity with them allows you to offer this support while giving them companionship. It can also motivate them to exercise regularly.

4. Remind them to take their medication

People who have very frequent gout flare-ups are often prescribed medication that reduces the body’s production of uric acid. This is known as urate-lowering therapy, or ULT. Such medications need to be taken on a daily basis. If your friend or family member with gout has a poor memory, you can remind them to take their medication. You could also help them to set up alarms or reminders on their phones to make sure they remember to take their medication when you’re not around.

5. Keep an eye on their emotional state

Gout is a painful condition that can limit movement and affect everyday life. Some people with gout find that their happiness and mental wellbeing declines, which can put them at risk of depression and anxiety. You can support them by spending quality time with them and helping them to partake in their usual hobbies and interests to ensure they don’t feel isolated. Look out for symptoms of anxiety and depression such as increased restlessness and irritability, tearfulness and hopelessness, decelerated movement or speech, and changes in appetite.

Your support is vital

Gout can be a debilitating condition if left untreated or poorly managed. The more support you can offer to someone with gout, the more you can protect their health and overall wellbeing.

For additional support around the home, consider a personal alarm for your loved one. This can provide peace of mind if they experience a fall, or a gout flare-up means they’re in too much pain. When help is needed, they simply press the button on their alarm pendant and our 24/7 Response Team answer the alert to arrange help on their behalf. If medical attention is required, our team will call the emergency services.

Find out more about the LifeConnect24 personal alarm service by reading our in-depth guide. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling our helpful team on 0800 999 0400.

LifeConnect24 Automatic Fall Detector 24/7 monitoring
LifeConnect24 Automatic Fall Detector 24/7 monitoring
LifeConnect24 Personal Alarm supports you at home 24/7
LifeConnect24 Personal Alarm supports you at home 24/7
LifeConnect24 Personal Alarm supports you at home 24/7
LifeConnect24 Automatic Fall Detector 24/7 monitoring
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