Skip to content

    Arthritis Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Your Gout Triggers

    By Mary Jo DiLonardo
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by David Zelman, MD

    When you have gout, you have higher than normal levels of uric acid in your body. When too much uric acid builds up around a joint, uric crystal forms, causing a painful gout flare.

    All sorts of things -- from certain foods and drinks to stress and medicines -- can cause your uric acid levels to go up. Knowing what can trigger the uric acid to build up in your body may help you avoid future gout attacks.

    Recommended Related to Arthritis

    Understanding Gout -- Basics

    Without warning and, for some reason, in the middle of the night, gout strikes -- an intense pain in a joint, most often the big toe, but sometimes other joints, including knees, ankles, elbows, thumbs, or fingers. Attacks of gout can be unexpected and excruciatingly painful. With prompt treatment, the pain and inflammation usually disappear after a few days, but they may recur at any time. More than 2 million Americans suffer from gout. Gout occurs more often in men than in women. Men usually...

    Read the Understanding Gout -- Basics article > >

    Common Gout Triggers

    There are some things that are likely to trigger flares in most people with gout, also known as gouty arthritis. If you know you have gout, you should try to stay away from these gout triggers.

    • Foods -- Foods that are high in a substance called purines can raise the uric acid level in your blood. This includes organ meats like liver; seafood like sardines, anchovies, mussels, and salmon; and even some vegetables such as spinach. Eating just one of these foods or several of them together, can cause a gout flare. Purines are found in all foods that have protein.
    • Alcohol -- Beer and liquor can raise the uric acid level in the blood and many bring on a gout flare. They can be extra bad for you because they also can make you dehydrated -- another common gout trigger. Wine is not linked to gout attacks and can be enjoyed in moderation.
    • Medication -- Some drugs that people take for other medical conditions -- such as high blood pressure or heart failure -- may also bring on a gout flare. Some possible flare-triggering drugs include diuretics, beta-blockers, and cyclosporine. Even low-dose aspirin can cause an attack. If your doctor is going to start you on a new medicine, be sure to tell her that you have gout.
    • Dehydration -- When your body is dehydrated, the amount of uric acid in your body rises, and your kidneys' ability to get rid of extra uric acid decreases. So when your body doesn't have enough water, you can be more likely to get a gout attack.
    • Fructose beverages -- Don't drink lots of sugary drinks containing fructose. Fructose-sweetened beverages can bring on gout flare-ups.
    • Medical stress -- Hospital visits, surgery, pneumonia, and other medical conditions and procedures can cause your uric acid levels to go up and your gout to flare. If you're going into the hospital or if you become sick, be sure to tell your doctor that you have gout.

    Today on WebMD

    Mature woman exercise at home
    Hint: Warming up first is crucial.
    feet with gout
    Quiz yourself.
     
    woman in pain
    One idea? Eat fish to curb inflammation.
    senior couple walking
    Can you keep your RA from progressing?
     
    xray of knees with osteoarthritis
    Slideshow
    close up of man wearing dress shoes
    Slideshow
     
    feet with gout
    Quiz
    close up of red shoe in shoebox
    Slideshow
     
    salad
    Video
    two male hands
    ARTICLE
     
    Woman massaging her neck
    Quiz
    5 Lupus Risk Factors
    Article