onions, garlic, vegetables @ Pixabay

What is onions and gout?

Onions and gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when the body produces too much uric acid. It is most often found in the big toe or heels and can also occur in smaller joints. Uric acid causes crystal deposits, which are known as tophi, to occur in soft tissue around an affected joint. The severity of these crystals can cause pain and inflammation, as well as impede movement and swelling of the joint.

To get rid of this painful condition, doctors usually prescribe medication that helps reduce uric acid levels. One such drug is Colchicine (Col-kis-een), which lowers uric acid levels by inhibiting a protein that increases its production by binding to it with zinc ions (Zn+). By using this medication, the level of uric acid in the blood is lowered and a patient can avoid serious complications from high levels of uric acid such as arthritis and kidney stones.

What are the features?

Onions and gout can occur randomly, or it can become a genetic disease. The disease typically comes on between the ages of 30 and 60, although it has been reported that some cases have appeared as early as age 10. Research suggests that a dietary pattern high in purines (nutrients found in red meats) may be a risk factor for both onions and gout.

What are the symptoms?

Onions and gout causes joint pain and swelling in one or more joints (usually the big toe, heel or other joints prone to swelling), which go away after they are warmed up by walking. Usually the pain is mild at first but can become severe if neglected. It may get worse at night due to excessive fluid buildup. Other symptoms may include fever, fatigue, irritability, nausea and vomiting.

What causes it?

In general, onions or any other form of fruit that contains a lot of sulfur trigger the condition. Onions are said to contain around 0.5 grams of purines per 100 grams (g), which is more than most other foods. Other triggers include any food containing sulfur along with excessive consumption of foods such as meats and fish in high amounts. Another thing to consider is taurine deficiency which causes uric acid levels to increase, due to it’s role in energy production within cells (which is why garlic has been associated with gout).

Who is at risk for getting it?

Supplements and herbal remedies may cause gout by raising the uric acid levels in the blood. Since this increases uric acid levels in the body, individuals who have gout or are prone to it should avoid taking any dietary supplements and herbal remedies. For this reason, patients who are already suffering from gout should only take supplements under proper medical supervision. Some of these supplements include:

Organo-sulfur compounds – These compounds contain sulfur in a chemical compound that can be used without being broken down when they enter the body. Organo-sulfur compounds are stored in our cells as a source of energy rather than being metabolized. This, then, causes a build up of uric acid within the body, which is what causes gout.

Some foods that may trigger a blood uric acid level to rise include:

Alcohol – Alcohol increases the uric acid levels in your body as it is metabolized. If a person is afflicted with gout, they should avoid drinking alcohol and check with their physician if they are thinking about quitting drinking altogether. People should also be careful of consuming too much alcoholic beverages as this may cause an even worse condition known as gouty arthritis or reactive arthritis.

Caffeinated beverages – Caffeine comes in various forms and is found in everything from coffee and tea, to soda and chocolate. Studies suggest that caffeine temporarily increases uric acid levels due to the increase in blood flow when a person drinks it. Though drinking caffeinated beverages shouldn’t be avoided completely, a person should be aware of how much they consume when suffering from gout.

Things to remember:

Taking certain medications can also increase your risk of developing gout. Some examples include diuretics (used to treat high blood pressure), chemotherapy drugs or those that treat arthritis and thyroid disorders. Following a healthy diet free of organo-sulfur compounds, low in purines and fructose can help reduce the risk of gout. If an individual suffers from gout, they should refrain from consuming foods high in fructose (such as fruits), as these may be a trigger. Fructose is also found in some sweetened foods, like cakes and cookies. As this increases uric acid levels within the body, it causes uric acid crystals to form, which may lead to gout symptoms.

Are there any drawbacks?

To prevent the development of gout, it is essential to know if you’re at risk for developing it. People who have a family history (or are suffering from another form of arthritis) should be especially careful about taking diuretics, as well as supplements or herbal remedies that may trigger a gout attack. It is also important to check with your doctor before stopping certain medications or lowering the dosage, as this could cause gout to flare up more severely.

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