Gout survey paints picture of daily struggle

news A new report entitled Gout Nation 2014 suggests more and more people in the UK are being diagnosed with gout, many of whom are struggling with this painful condition. Gout is the third most common type of arthritis after osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The survey, published just a few days ahead of this year’s World Arthritis Day (October 11), was carried out by Arthritis Care. It shows that one in 40 people in this country currently have gout, which is 30 percent more than in 1997. And the diagnosis rate is rising by 1.5 percent every year.

The survey also reveals the impact gout has on people’s lives. The condition can be so bad that 83 percent of people with gout struggle with day-to-day activities when their condition is at its worst, including putting on shoes, getting around and using stairs. According to the report, the activities most commonly affected by gout are mobility related, with 36 percent of sufferers claiming they have to give up or reduce walking and 28 percent saying they take less – or no – exercise.

The report discovered that being overweight is the biggest lifestyle factor for gout too, with 84 percent of the survey participants classed as overweight or obese (1,259 UK adults with gout were included in the survey). Of those, 25 percent had lost weight to reduce their symptoms or slow the progression of their condition.

Gout – which is much more common in men than women – causes swollen and extremely painful joints, with the big toe often the first to be affected (70 percent of first gout attacks are in the big toe). Other joints can also be affected, including the hands, wrists and ankles. According to the NHS, it affects 1-2 percent of the population and becomes more common as people get older.

However, the good news is that gout can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes. Arthritis Action supports its members with gout by encouraging them to eat healthily, lose weight (where appropriate), stay active and limit the amount of alcohol – particularly beer – they drink. Our Conquest Diet can also be tailored by our registered dietician Martin Lau for each individual gout sufferer’s needs.

“If you have gout, losing excess weight should be your first priority – but do so sensibly, as crash dieting is likely to cause an attack,” says Martin. “Another common misbelief is to cut out all purine-containing foods (mainly meats). The key issue here is to limit your intake. Also don’t forget the importance of staying hydrated at all times.”

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