By Dr. Christopher Parker
Where do you look for information about gout? If your answer is the internet, you are not alone. The internet can be a great source of information. But there also are many myths living online that can work against your best efforts to control your gout.
Here are the top four misconceptions I try to clear up with my patients:
- “Gout will always be unmanageable.”
While it’s true that there is no cure for gout, that doesn’t mean the disease can’t be managed. There are several options available to effectively treat and manage your gout. Visiting a health care provider is the first step in finding the treatment that will work for you. Your doctor is there to be your partner and guide in helping you to control your gout.
- “Only overweight men are diagnosed with gout.”
Men and women of all ages can develop gout. Although it is true that men are more likely to have gout, women — particularly those post menopause, –can still have gout. While weight and diet can increase your risk of gout and gout flares, it is not the only factor. Generally, gout is influenced by other risk factors, such as family history, chronic kidney disease or trauma to the joint, rather than simply gender and weight.
- “Gout pain affects only the big toe.”
While gout attacks most commonly occur in the big toe, they can also affect other joints, including the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and fingers. If gout attacks your big toe first, and your gout is not being well managed, it can come back and develop in other joints.
- “Home remedies like cherry juice and apple cider vinegar ‘cure’ gout.”
The only way to effectively control gout is by visiting your health care provider and finding a treatment that works for you. While home remedies like tart cherry juice and apple cider vinegar are widely discussed and used in the gout community, research has not shown that they are effective in treating gout and gout flares. For the most part, however, these home remedies aren’t doing you any harm. If you think it is helping, and your doctor give you the “ok,” by all means continue using these home remedies alongside the treatment plan you and your doctor have developed.
Don’t let these misconceptions stand in the way of you controlling your gout. Find a doctor and take your treatment as prescribed. Learn from others in the Gout Support Group of America Facebook group. And live your life to the fullest by successfully managing your gout.