Making dietary shifts, lifestyle changes, and adjustments to your medications may be the most effective ways to prevent gout from developing or reduce your chance of flares.

Gout is a painful form of inflammatory arthritis. It’s a chronic condition, but symptoms may come and go, worsening during periods called flares.

Certain risk factors may make you more vulnerable to getting gout. Even so, prevention and management of flares is possible.

Whether you’re at risk of gout and want to prevent it or you have gout and want to prevent future flares, making the following changes might help.

Gout results from a buildup of uric acid in the body. This is called hyperuricemia. In some people, excess uric acid causes sharp crystals to form within the joints. Some people with hyperuricemia develop gout, but others don’t.

What you eat and drink can affect the amount of uric acid your body produces. Some foods contain purines, which increase uric acid production in the body.

Eating a high purine diet increases your likelihood of developing gout. Eating a low purine diet may protect against gout and the painful flares it causes.

Here are a few examples of high purine and low purine foods and drinks.

Low purine itemsHigh purine items
• water
• coffee
• cherries and cherry juice
• skim milk and other fat-free or low fat dairy products
• whole grain foods, like oatmeal and quinoa
• nuts and sugar-free nut butters
• high fat foods, such as gravy and meat
• red meat, like beef
• organ meat, like liver
• game meat, like venison and duck
• alcoholic beverages, including beer
• foods containing high fructose corn syrup
• shellfish, like shrimp, scallops, mussels, and oysters
• certain types of seafood, like anchovies, mackerel, and herring

Experts recommend the following tips to prevent gout flares:

  • Eat a healthy diet low in purines.
  • If you have obesity or overweight, losing some weight may be helpful.
  • Exercising burns calories and can support weight loss. It will also help reduce pressure on your joints. You could try low impact exercises, such as swimming, biking, and walking.
  • Reduce your intake of hard liquor or beer.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water or other non-sugary, nonalcoholic beverages. Fluids help flush your system of uric acid.

Can treating sleep apnea help with gout?

Some research suggests that treating sleep apnea, which is a condition that affects your breathing during sleep, may also help with gout.

While experts aren’t entirely sure what links these two conditions, they think oxygen reduction (hypoxia) plays a role. Sleep apnea episodes result in less oxygen reaching bodily tissues. The resulting tissue damage may increase uric acid levels, leading to hyperuricemia.

A 2021 study found that using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea resulted in reduced uric acid levels.

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Several prescription medications can help prevent and control gout flares. But some may increase your chance of gout.

Medications that treat gout

Gout flare medications include anti-inflammatories to reduce pain and inflammation, such as:

A healthcare professional may also prescribe drugs that block or reduce uric acid buildup, such as:

Medications that can trigger gout

Some medications may contribute to uric acid buildup, increasing your likelihood of gout flares. Among the most common are diuretics and aspirin.

Diuretics reduce fluid retention in your body. Doctors may prescribe them for conditions such as high blood pressure or congestive heart failure.

Many people take low dose aspirin as a daily OTC treatment to help prevent heart attack or stroke.

Other medications or supplements that may contribute to hyperuricemia and gout include:

If you’re taking medications that increase your likelihood of gout, talk with a healthcare professional. They may be able to change your prescription to a drug that doesn’t have this side effect.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about gout flares.

What causes gout to flare up?

You may not always be able to pinpoint the cause of your flares. Causes of flares include:

  • sustaining physical trauma to a joint
  • drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • eating high purine foods
  • becoming dehydrated

What’s the fastest way to flush out gout?

You can “flush out” excess uric acid in the body by drinking lots of water. The Arthritis Foundation recommends drinking 8–16 cups of fluid daily, with at least half of them being water.

Can gout be cured?

There’s no cure for gout. However, making lifestyle and medication changes can keep flares under control for long periods.

Gout, which is a type of inflammatory arthritis, is due to excess uric acid in your body. Making dietary changes, such as following a low purine diet, may help reduce your chance of developing gout or having future flares.

Making lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a moderate weight and getting regular exercise, can also help reduce your likelihood. You may also want to check with a healthcare professional if the medications you take are affecting your chance of gout flares.