This page about preventing gout was last reviewed, or updated, on 30 April 2013
Gout prevention - after an initial attack - is the content of many of the other pages on this website. This page, and the subsequent one reached by the link at the bottom of this page, considers how to prevent gout in the first place.
If you have read around this site you’ll know many of the things you need to do to treat gout naturally, and perhaps cure your gout. They are also the things you need to do to prevent gout, both over the long term, and before the next attack, if you already have had a first one. This is called the intercritical gout period. The difference is that if you have had a gout attack you need to take a more rigorous approach.
The world’s gout population is often said to be on the increase. People are getting gout at a younger age, so preventing gout has never been more necessary. The reasons that have been attributed to growing gout are varied of course. Here are some:
There are increasing numbers of obese people; people are living longer and therefore there are more people alive who have hyperuricemia (excess uric acid) which often leads to gout - it’s a condition that builds up over a number of years. Sedentary lifestyles contribute - office desk work, car transportation, and couch potato evenings. Modern diets can cause insulin resistance - some experts think very easily - and there is growing evidence of the link between insulin resistance, hyperuricemia (a high uric acid level), and gout.
So much so, that this website believes insulin resistance is a major cause of gout these days.
Do you have hyperuricemia ?
If your body has excess uric acid (hyperuricemia) for whatever reason, the MSU gout crystals are more likely to be formed. Like blood pressure, uric acid levels have a tendency to rise as you age. One way of finding out is to have your uric acid level checked at a doctor’s surgery, hospital lab, mobile screening unit or diagnostic centre. Where you go depends on the health care system of the country where you reside.
Self test with uric acid meters
Or, to better understand your chances of preventing gout, you can purchase a hand held uric acid meter and do a uric acid self-test at home, at consistent intervals.
Remember for most hyperuricemia (a high uric acid level) begins at a uric acid in the blood level of about 7.2mg/dL and above for men, and about 6.0 mg/dL and above for women.
The UASure uric acid test kit
Who else can benefit from uric acid self testing?
Using a uric acid test kit is an especially good idea for people for whom gout runs in the family; for people who have a family history of diseases that can lead to gout such as kidney disease and high blood pressure; for people who have had a transplant operation; and for people who are in a high risk category for another reason such as overweight males between 40 – 60 years old, who have been or are, heavy drinkers or alcoholic.
Compare and confirm the meter's results with a test conducted by a health care professional. Normal uric acid levels are 7.2 mg/dL (0.428 mmol/L) for men and 6.0 mg/dL (0.357 mmol/L) for women. (dL is a short form of deciliter). mmol/L is sometimes expressed as µmol/L, the SI (International System) unit. If it is expressed as µmol/L, then 0.428 mmol/L becomes 428 µmol/L. µmol/L is pronounced "mewmol." Any reading above these normal levels is a cause for concern and should put you on red alert for gout prevention.
Why bother to find out ?
Is this time and money to find out about a major way of preventing gout well spent? Obviously if you learn you have hyperuricenia you'll be able to plan a diet lower in purines (avoiding offal, certain kinds of fish and so on – see the purines/uric acid page for details).
And you'll know why you should pay great attention to a prevention of gout strategy. Without this knowledge you won't know whether you should be focusing on how to prevent gout, including following the other dietary and lifestyle tips explained further on.
And if you find out now that you don’t have hyperuricemia you'll have a base reference date. At some point in the future should you learn that you have hyperuricemia, you'll know more accurately for how long you’ve had it. The shorter the time, the less likely that gout will call from your big toe or another joint. But supposing you discover at some point in the future that you’ve got hyperuricemia and you don’t know for how long? You won't be quite so confident that gout won’t start sending its painful messages.
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How much does the level of blood uric acid actually change as it falls? Here are the numbers of someone who reduced uric acid by an impressive 6.3 mg/dL in 3 months.