By Gary Ho
Gout is a chronic condition – excruciating, disruptive and, like it or not, with you for life. But after facing down gout for nearly 25 years, I know it can be managed.
Here are five things I’ve learned along the way.
- I’m not alone (and neither are you).
More than 9 million Americans live with gout. Although the disease can feel isolating at times, literally millions of other people are dealing with the same condition and understand how you feel.
- Gout is seen differently than other sources of pain.
Gout is widely misunderstood. Some people even think that the condition is “funny.” But those living with gout know that the debilitating pain they experience is not a joke.
Another misconception is that gout is self-inflicted. This is not true. Gout is often influenced by other risk factors like family history or chronic kidney disease.
- Home remedies have limited effects.
You’ve probably heard of a home remedy that will “cure” your condition. Do tart cherry juice and apple cider vinegar sound familiar? They are some of the most common ways people try to manage their gout. I’m here to tell you they have limited effects. Diets and home remedies usually move uric acid levels up or down an average of 1mg/dl.
While diet and exercise play a role in gout management, most people need medication to manage their condition. The good news? There are many different medications that can help you not only manage the pain, but also treat the underlying cause.
- Seeking treatment is an act of bravery.
Visiting a doctor is critical. Don’t feel embarrassed to talk about your condition. Your doctor is there to be your partner in managing gout.
And don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. I’ve had doctors downplay gout. It wasn’t until I saw a rheumatologist who listened to me that I was able to get my disease under control.
- Community is key.
Surrounding yourself with a supportive, understanding network of people can make a big difference. Share how you’re feeling. If you’re looking for other people who are living with gout, you can join a community of over 13,000 gout patients in the Gout Support Group of America Facebook group.
If you’re one of the 9 million Americans living with gout, learn everything you can and take bold steps to get the treatment you need. Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s this. Either you manage gout, or gout manages you.