*An Illness to be ready for!*
Gout. If you even say the word to someone who has not experienced the disease, you will almost universally get a cringe, shudder, or otherwise equally scary response. Gout is the most painful condition I have ever experienced. I don’t think I can accurately explain the magnitude of the pain. I once walked around for 3 months on a broken foot (2 metatarsals and a sessmoid broken). Yeah, it hurt, but I thought, “No way it could be broken- it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as a gout attack!” During one severe attack, I couldn’t even bear a bed sheet touching my toe. A slight breeze blowing over it made this Marine want to cry. I cannot begin to describe the excruciating pain gout can cause. That being said, if you don’t have gout one of your team mates might, or they may develop it due to a storage food diet. Have your group or team medic familiarize themselves with gout. Don’t rule out the gout! It is not super common, but it’s not dead either. One day someone in your group might just wake up in the morning with debilitating pain in their big toe and not know what, why, or how it happened. That is a dead giveaway.
**Disclaimer: I am not a Medical Doctor. Please do not substitute this information for advice from a trained medical professional. The following is a compilation of treatments and info I have accrued over many years; what worked for me and what didn’t. If anything, perhaps you can use the information in this article to approach a discussion with your Doctor from a more informed place. If you don’t have access to a Doctor in a SHTF situation, this info may help. Use at your own risk. **
You see, gout is “Hyperurecemia.” That means your body can’t filter out all of the Uric acid it produces. The Uric acid crystallizes and collects in the joints, usually at the lowest point of the body due to gravity. That’s right, the big toe. The actual crystalline shape of Uric acid looks like microscopic needles. Imagine needle shaped grains of sand on your joints. I wouldn’t wish the pain produced on my worst enemy.
The condition is exacerbated by several things:
* I will focus on behaviors and lifestyle. Other medical conditions such as impaired kidney function may be a factor. Consult your Doctor if you have concerns about these.
Dehydration. (even a very mild case)
Eating foods that are high in Purine content. Legumes, red meat, pork, asparagus mushrooms, and shellfish are probably the worst. (*sob* I loved shrimp!)
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, especially beer. Speeds dehydration and has high a Purine content.
Intake of excessive salt or nitrates. Bologna, store bought commercial bacon, hot dogs, etc. Salt and nitrates are used as preservatives, and also tend to speed dehydration and impede proper kidney function.
Many of your stored preps may contain high levels of preservatives, including salt. I also don’t know anyone who doesn’t include beans in their storage items. Take a moment to consider that when analyzing your food storage preps.
Here are some things you can do to help prevent attacks and treat them if they occur:
Change your diet. I personally cut back on the red meat and limited any gout inducing foods. I simply treated all of the “bad foods” as treats. Red meat, mushrooms and asparagus no more than once a week; Shrimp no more than once a month, and so on. Each individual will need to assess what triggers an attack, and go from there. You can also start drinking a cup of Bing cherry juice daily. It has been proven to help prevent attacks, and I can vouch for its effectiveness. I live close enough here in the Pacific NW to several cherry orchards that in a long term SHTF situation I believe I could obtain my cherry juice. I still find it prudent to plant a cherry tree (or a bunch) everywhere I live. Having a source of this preventive medicine could prove invaluable to a gout sufferer, and cherries are a welcome addition to almost any survival diet. A mature grove of cherry trees can also prove to have considerable timber value!
It is with a very sad heart and a tear in my eye that I must tell you all about the absolute single most effective thing I have done to control and nearly eliminate 95% of my own Gout symptoms and issues:
I quit drinking beer altogether. ‘Nuff said. (*sob!)
Wine and hard alcohol in moderation did not seem to trigger attacks for me. Beer with its wonderfully rich hoppy-malty-wheaty goodness began to trigger serious attacks frequently. In fact, for several years in my mid to late twenties I attributed general stiffness and soreness in my joints to just living and working hard for most of my life. In fact it was a low-level continuous gout attack. I quit drinking beer altogether (*another sob*) when I was 30, and my aches and pains dropped to a level reminiscent of my early twenties!
Traditional allopathic medicine. Anti inflammatory drugs like Idomethacin (generic Indocin), Diclofenac Sodium (generic Voltaren), and Ibuprofen. The first two require a prescription. I have found Indomethacin to be very effective. I have also used this drug 5 years after its printed expiration date with no noticeable decrease in effectiveness. I did not titrate or check the medicine other than a quick visual. Trust me, if I feel a gout attack coming on and I have even the tiniest chance of preventing it, nothing will stop me from attempting to prevent it. I will try anything. It is just that painful. Other prescription drugs used to treat gout are Colchicine and Alpurinol. Colchicine can actually be extracted from autumn crocus flowers. I have personally taken it, and while it works, one MAJOR drawback is that if the dosage is wrong you will experience an explosive gastrointestinal event(s) that will last for days. Alpurinol works well, but once you begin using it, you will be on it for life. If you run out of Alpurinol, the gout WILL return with a vengeance, notably worse than before. Bear this in mind before deciding on this course of treatment. Some folks choose the Alpurinol treatment so they do not have to modify their diet. I know 2 men who are daily beer drinkers and have gout. Alpurinol works for them to inhibit gout with no lifestyle changes. Heaven help them if they can’t get their medicine.
Naturopathic and Eastern Medicine. Herbal remedies will probably be available long after the pharmaceutical plants shut down and the meds have run out. I have been treated with herbs and acupuncture for gout. Some acupuncture treatments actually flush the system, so those should be used as a preventative. If applied near the onset of an attack, it releases more Uric Acid into the bloodstream and can actually make the condition worse. If you are lucky enough to have an Eastern Medicine Doctor on your team, they will know this. I can’t pronounce or even remotely remember the Herbs I took; it was just too long ago. I plan on asking a Chinese Herbalist friend of mine and amending this article to include them as soon as he gets back in town. As for conventional supplements, Lithium has been proven to break down and combine with the Uric Acid and help flush it out of the system. Obviously it is not taken in dosages anywhere near prescription Lithium that is used to treat mental disorders! Lithium Orotate can be found in most vitamin sections of grocery stores or health food joints. The recommended dosage on the bottle was doubled by 2 naturopaths that I know for gout treatment, but check with your Doc before increasing the dosage over the general instructions. If you are fortunate enough to live near a lithium-rich hot spring, a good soak helps as well. I have looked for something similar to Epsom Salts, but with Lithium instead of Magnesium. I have been unable to identify or locate such a product, so if any Rubies know of one or have a source please let me know! Taking a large daily dose (~1000 to 2000mg) of Vitamin C helps, but be careful not to go too far and adversely affect your gastrointestinal tract.
Treatment of acute onset. DO NOT USE COLD! A gout attack may be confused for some other joint malady or injury normally treated with ice packs. By slowing the blood flow you will make the condition worse. Heat is best. Stay hydrated! Begin any course of medication you have on hand as soon as possible.
Gout is a debilitating malady. If it strikes you or a team member, there is very little that can be done other than to wait out the attack while attempting to treat symptoms. In an emergency situation you most likely cannot afford to have a member out of commission and requiring extra care. I hope this article helps, or at least raises awareness for other Rubies about an uncommon, but treatable illness. Remember, prevention is the key!
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