Gout: An Unwanted Holiday Guest


You enjoy a great evening at party with friends with lots of rich and delicious food and a few glasses of holiday cheer. But instead of sweet dreams when you get home, you are awakened in the middle of the night with excruciating pain in your big toe. There’s a good chance you may be experiencing an attack of gout. Gout occurs when uric acid crystallizes in a joint. The cooler it is, the more likely uric acid will crystallize, and your toe is the coolest because it is the part of your body farthest from your heart. Gout can occur in any joint, however. Food is a common trigger of gout, and one of the major reasons we at Texas Foot Specialists see an increase in this condition during the holiday season.

It’s About Chemistry

Uric acid is a byproduct of the breaking down of chemicals known as purines. Purines occur naturally in the body and are also found in certain foods. In some patients with gout, their bodies produce too much uric acid. For others, gout develops because their kidneys have trouble getting rid of uric acid. For people prone to gout, avoiding foods that are high in purines is recommended. These include:

  • Shellfish
  • Organ meats
  • Red meat
  • Red wine
  • Beer

In addition to food, there are other factors that can make someone more likely to get gout, such as:

  • Genetics
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Surgery
  • Stress
  • Chemotherapy
  • Certain medications and vitamins
  • Diabetes

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect you are experiencing a gout attack, you’ll want to come in to our Pasadena (281) 991-0600, Houston (713) 664-6677 or Sugar Land (281) 242-4448 office and get your foot checked by one of our podiatrists, Dr. Bruce Miller or Dr. Gregory Mangum. The foot doctor will ask questions about your medical history and recent activities and examine the affected joint. Laboratory tests and x-rays may also be ordered to rule out other inflammatory conditions.

Gout will usually go away within 3 to 10 days with proper treatment. This may involve medication as well as immobilizing and elevating the affected foot and drinking plenty of fluids. Maintenance medications are available if repeated attacks occur.

To learn more about this arthritic condition, contact us. Chronic gout can cause permanent damage to a joint.