How Alcohol Affects Your Uric Acid Levels

man sitting on couch, being offered a beer, but holding out his hand to say

With Dry January officially here, it's important to understand just how much drinking alcohol can impact gout and your uric acid levels.

What is gout?

Gout is an extremely painful form of arthritis that can lead to long-term consequences for your overall health. Symptoms can arise without any warning, and they can stick around for weeks or even years. Gout tends to impact the big toe, but it can also occur in other joints as well, like your knees, ankles, fingers, and other toes.

Symptoms can include:

  • Intense and sudden pain
  • Joint discomfort that lingers even after the severe pain subsides
  • Inflammation or redness in the affected joint(s)
  • Joint stiffness

Gout is most commonly found in men between the ages of 30 and 50, but there are certain things that can put you at a higher risk for getting gout or triggering gout attacks.

What things can trigger gout attacks?

 Gout attacks can be brought on by a few different triggers:

  • Consuming drinks that contain high-fructose corn syrup, like soda or certain juices
  • Eating foods that are rich in purines, like seafood, shellfish, bacon, turkey, or veal
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being overweight or having a higher body mass index
  • Not drinking enough water. Being dehydrated can intensify your gout symptoms.

What does uric acid have to do with gout?

Hyperuricemia is a result of gout, and it's basically a fancy way of saying you have an excess amount of uric acid in your body.

Uric acid is formed as your body breaks down purines from the food and beverages you consume. Though most uric acid dissolves in your blood or leaves through urine, sometimes your uric acid levels can become too high and build up in your blood. This buildup of uric acid can cause uric acid crystals to form. These crystals then settle in your joints and cause pain and inflammation in the form of gout.

What does drinking alcohol have to do with gout?

Alcohol can affect gout in three ways: 1) it can increase your uric acid levels, 2) it can reduce how much uric acid is removed from your body, and 3) it can cause dehydration.

1) Beer specifically contains very high levels of purines. The more purines in your body, the higher your uric acid levels are. Drinking even two beers daily can more than double your risk of developing gout and increase the likelihood of experiencing a gout attack.

2) Consuming any type of alcohol will actually work to pull the uric acid back into your body, reducing the amount and the speed at which the uric acid is released.

3) As you continue to drink alcohol, your body becomes more and more dehydrated. This is because alcohol is actually known as a diuretic, which increases the amount of water that is expelled through urine. Diuretics basically work to get rid of extra fluid in your body. The more you go, the more vital fluids you lose.

Eliminating alcohol from your routine will not eliminate gout entirely, but cutting back on it may help to lower your uric acid levels and reduce the frequency and severity of gout attacks.

 Stay on top of your Uric Acid Levels

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