It’s possible to suffer from both gout and diabetes at the same time. People with both gout and diabetes are advised to avoid foods that may affect the levels of uric acid and insulin in the body. Therefore, recommended diets for this group focus on lowering both uric acid and blood sugar levels.
Understanding Gout and Diabetes
1. Understand what causes gout. Gout – a form of arthritis – is a condition caused by the buildup of excess uric acid. Uric acid is a chemical produced during purine metabolism in the body. Purines are nitrogen-containing compounds that are produced inside the body or can be found in certain foods and drinks.
- Gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in the joints, causing intense pain and inflammation. Urate crystals can form when a person has high levels of uric acid in the blood.
- Gout causes sudden, extreme attacks of pain, redness, and swelling. Gouty arthritis most often affects the big toe, but it also can occur in the ankles, feet, knees, wrists, and hands.
2. Know what causes diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s utilization of glucose – blood sugar that is the body’s source of energy. In order to use glucose, our body needs insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps transport blood sugar or glucose into the cells as a source of energy. Without sufficient insulin, the blood sugar cannot be absorbed by the body’s cells and remains in the bloodstream. In people with diabetes, there is the inability of the body to produce insulin or the insulin does not work as it should.
Diabetes has two types:
- Type 1 diabetes. The body’s immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells of the pancreas, which is responsible for the production of insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes. The pancreas can still produce insulin but the body does not respond well to it, so the insulin doesn’t work.In both types of diabetes, the glucose cannot normally enter the cells and remains in the bloodstream, resulting in high levels of blood sugar.
3.Know the risk factors for both gout and diabetes. Gout and type 2 diabetes often occur together, as both diseases have common risk factors.
- Age: As the body ages, its functions deteriorate. It may be unable to excrete uric acid any more which can lead to gout, or it may be unable to utilize insulin anymore, which can lead to diabetes.
- Family history: Both gout and diabetes can be inherited. If one of your family members has gout or diabetes, then there is a chance that you may inherit the disease as well.
- Gender: Both gout and diabetes more often occur in men than in women. This is because men have higher uric acid levels and are less sensitive to insulin.
- Obesity: More adipose tissues from fats can produce and secrete more uric acid which can cause gout. Also, insulin does not easily bind to fats, which can increase a person’s risk of diabetes.
- Diet and lifestyle: Excessive intake of alcohol can affect the body’s normal process of excreting uric acid, which can lead to gout. Also, alcohol can affect the body’s sensitivity to insulin which can lead to diabetes.
4. Recognize the symptoms of gout.
- Joint pain and inflammation: This is caused by elevated deposits of crystallized uric acid in the joints. This uric acid may irritate the joints and lead to inflammation. The pain in the joint can be described as sharp or excruciating.
- Kidney problems: Increased uric acid can cause kidney stone formation, which leads to problems with urination. The kidney stones may block urine passage.
5. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Diabetes symptoms occur when the blood sugar is below the normal range (hypoglycemia) or above the normal range (hyperglycemia). The normal range of blood sugar levels in the body is 70 to 110 mg/dl.
Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
- Blurred or impaired vision: Due to low levels of glucose (which provides energy for the body) certain parts of the body, such as the eyes, become weak due to insufficient energy.
- The confusion which may lead to delirium: Due to insufficient glucose, the vital organs such as the brain are not working properly.Extreme hunger leading to excessive eating: The body compensates for its lack of energy by releasing Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) which gives the person the urge to eat.
- Extreme thirst leading to excessive drinking: When the body loses fluids because of frequent urination in diabetes, the body secretes vasopressin (also known as an antidiuretic hormone) which activates the thirst mechanism and stimulates the kidneys to reabsorb water. The person responds by drinking a lot of water in order to replace lost fluids.
- Rapid or fast heartbeat: Because the body has no source of energy such as glucose, the heart compensates by speeding up the pumping of blood to the body’s vital organs.
- Weakness or fatigue: Because the body does not have enough glucose, the sufferer may experience weakness and fatigue.
6. Recognize the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia. When blood sugar levels go above the normal range, symptoms include:
- Blurred or impaired vision: Abnormally high glucose levels in the blood can lead to swelling of the lens, which causes blurred vision.
- The confusion which may lead to delirium: In hyperglycemia, although there may be a high level of blood glucose, it is not transported into the cells because of lack of insulin or insulin does not respond well to the body, so there is still no source of energy. The vital organs such as the brain don’t work properly due to insufficient energy.
- Extreme thirst leading to excessive drinking: When the body loses fluids because of frequent urination in diabetes, the body secretes vasopressin which functions to activate the thirst mechanism and stimulate the kidneys to reabsorb water. The person responds by drinking a lot of water in order to replace lost fluids.
- Frequent urination: With hyperglycemia, not all of the blood sugar can be reabsorbed and some of the excess blood glucose is secreted in the urine where it draws more water. The kidneys attempt to decrease blood glucose levels by excreting the excess blood glucose through the urine.
- Headaches: In an attempt to get rid of the excess sugar, the body increases urine output. This increase in urination leads to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance that results in headaches.
- Rapid or fast heartbeat: Because the body has no source of energy such as glucose, the heart compensates by speeding up the pumping of blood into the vital parts of the body.
- Weakness or fatigue: Insufficient energy – due to the inability of glucose to be absorbed by the cells – leads to weakness and fatigue.
Read more about Diabetes:
Sources and Citations: www.wikihow.com, Johnson, R., Nakagawa, T., 2013, Bupa’s Health Information Team, 2004, April,16 Moghul, S., 2013, June 23