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Myths & Facts

Gout has been with us for so long that it comes with its own collection of myths. Here we debunk the myths and replace them with facts.

Myths Debunked

Myth: “People have been getting gout for thousands of years. Sure it hurts, but it’s no big deal.”
Fact: People who don’t get their gout under control can end up with constant pain (not as bad as during an attack, but it’s still pretty bad), joint deformities, and potentially even reduced kidney function. In addition, having gout has been associated with increased cardiovascular and other long-term health risks. Gout is a real disease that involves real pain and consequences.

Myth: “Gout is caused by eating junk food.”
Fact: A diet high in junk food can lead to obesity, which is a risk factor for gout, but the underlying cause of gout is a high level of uric acid in the blood, which in some people, results in crystals being deposited in the joints and gout attacks.

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Myth: “Women don’t get gout.”
Fact: Women do get gout, but are usually diagnosed with it at a later age than men, because it’s rare in pre-menopausal women. More men are diagnosed with gout in the under-60 age category than women. After age 60, the numbers even out. By age 80, more women than men are diagnosed with gout.

Myth: “Gout is mostly a disease of the past. I don’t know anyone who has it.”
Fact: There’s historical evidence of gout going back at least two thousand years, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also a modern disease. In fact, the number of Americans with gout has doubled in the past two decades. At that rate, if you don’t know someone with gout now, you are likely to soon.

Myth: “I don’t drink alcohol, so I’m not increasing my risk of gout.”
Fact: Alcohol is just one risk factor for gout. Sugary sodas, for example, increase the risk of developing gout as well.

Myth: “Being overweight has nothing to do with the fact that I have gout.”
Fact: Obesity is a well-recognized risk factor for gout. Healthy eating and exercise can help you lose weight—and they’re important steps in tackling gout!

Myth: “Gout is incurable. You just have to live with it.”
Fact: While there is no magic cure for gout, proper medical treatment and lifestyle measures, including healthy eating, weight management and exercise, can keep it under control and help prevent the disease from progressing.

Myth: “It’s embarrassing to have gout.”
Fact: People who have gout tend not to talk about it, perhaps because they don’t think it’s a serious health threat, or because some of the risk factors are related to lifestyle, which makes them feel guilty. Learning to talk about it helps reduce any embarrassment. Help bust gout myths by educating your family, friends and employer.