Most people who have experienced a painful gout attack are well aware that they tend to cause a rude awakening by occurring in the middle of the night.
But there weren’t any scientific studies to back up the anecdotal timing of gout attacks—until now.
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Nighttime gout attack 250% more likely
A recent study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology followed a group of more than 700 gout patients and tracked when their attacks occurred over a 1-year period. The results revealed that attacks were 250% more likely to occur between midnight and 8 a.m. than during the day.1 This was true for participants regardless of gender, age, weight, or medication use.
Experts still aren’t sure why nighttime is such a consistently risky time for gout attacks. It may have to do with overnight dehydration or falling levels of the hormone cortisol.
But they are hopeful that the study findings can help inform doctors and patients about the best times of day to take medications that can prevent gout attacks, like allopurinol and colchicines.
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Take steps to prevent gout attacks
In the meantime, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing the unpleasant late-night surprise of a gout attack:
- Take your medication.
If you have a prescription for a medication like allopurinol or probenecid, take it faithfully. These medications are proven to help prevent attacks by removing uric acid from your system. If you don’t have a prescription, ask your doctor if it’s right for you.
- Steer clear of purines.
Food and drinks high in purines include:
- Alcohol, especially beer
- Organ and game meats
- Lentils and dried beans
- Certain vegetables like spinach and mushrooms
- For a complete list, read Gout Prevention Diet
- Drink lots of water.
Staying hydrated helps the kidneys and flushes uric acid out of your system.
If you do wake up to a gout attack underway, you can treat it with rest, ice, and pain medications.
- “Nocturnal risk of gout attacks.” Arthritis Rheumatol. 2014 Dec 11.