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Women get gout, too



DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My wife, 55, has gout. I thought this was a man thing. It was a surprise to her, and to me. She’s slender and watches what she eats. She never drinks alcohol. She doesn’t smoke. She’s on Indocin right now. What kind of diet does she need to follow? – S.W.

ANSWER: Women get gout. Before menopause, gout strikes more men than women, but after menopause, gout is an equal-opportunity condition that happens to as many women as men.

Admittedly, your wife isn’t the typical gout patient. Usually the gout profile is an overweight person who is a somewhat heavy user of alcohol. That certainly doesn’t apply to every gout sufferer, however.

Blame gout on uric acid. It’s the byproduct of the daily turnover of body cells. Gout patients either make too much of it or get rid of too little in the urine. The result is a rise in blood levels of uric acid. It diffuses into joints as needle-shaped crystals. The crystals inflame the joint, which becomes red, swollen, hot and unbelievably painful. Quite often, the first joint that gout settles in is the base of the big toe. After the first attack, the ankle, foot instep, wrist, fingers, elbow or others can be the target of an attack. A second attack can be expected within a year of the first in more than 60 percent of patients, and within three years in close to 80 percent.

Indocin is often used for an attack. For prevention of attacks, probenecid is used to flush out uric acid in those who are excreting too little, and allopurinol is used for those making too much. There are other medicines.

Your wife won’t have to change her diet much. She should go easy on red meat and seafood. She should give up organ meats, like liver. She doesn’t drink alcohol, and that’s something in her favor. That’s about all she has to do when it comes to food and drink.

The gout pamphlet deals with this topic in greater detail. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 302W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./ $6.75 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have heard of organ-cleansing diets several times in the past months. Some people I know have gone on these diets to cleanse the liver, kidneys and bowels. Some have bought books that describe the diet. One person used a product for cleansing that can be purchased online. Do you know if these diets and products contribute to health? – B.C.

ANSWER: I firmly believe that nature made us in such a way that our organs and our digestive tracts cleanse themselves without our interference. Only if we become sick do our organs need outside help. Meddling with them unnecessarily is not a way to prevent illness.

Much of this cleansing desire comes from times gone by, when it was believed that the bowel was poisoning us with toxins. That’s not true. These are my opinions. You’re welcome to accept or reject them.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853- 6475.

©2007 North America Synd., Inc.

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