What Is Gout? And What Does It Have to Do with Diabetes?
Anyone who's ever had gout knows just how painful this condition can be. Gout is quite common, but what many people don't know is that gout is actually linked to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes.
In this article, we are going to learn all about gout including what it is, what causes it, how it can increase your risk type 2 diabetes, and what to do about it.
What is gout?
Gout is a common form of arthritis that involves painful inflammation of the joints. It usually affects one joint at a time (often the joint at the base of the big toe). The signs and symptoms of gout include pain, swelling, redness, stiffness, and heat in the affected joint or joints. Many people report that it feels like the affected area is on fire.
The symptoms of gout usually come and go. An attack may come on suddenly, but when a flare up ends the symptoms can disappear for long periods of remission.
What causes gout?
Gout occurs when something called uric acid builds up in your body's tissues. Uric acid is made when substances called purines (which are found in foods like seafood and red meat) are broken down in the body.
Uric acid is supposed to dissolve into the blood and get eliminated through your urine, but sometimes it can build up to unusual levels. When that happens, needle-like crystals can form in your joints from the excess and cause severe pain and inflammation.
Risk factors for gout
There are several common risk factors that can increase your chances of having this painful condition. You may be more likely to have gout if you:
- Eat a lot of foods high in purines (red meat, organ meats, certain types of seafood, etc.)
- Drink alcohol
- Consume sugary foods and beverages high in fructose
- Are overweight or obese
- Have health conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, or kidney disease
- Have family history of gout
- Are male 
Gout increases your risk for diabetes
Aside from being very painful and interfering with your ability to enjoy daily life, gout also has other severe ramifications. In fact, gout is linked to serious chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes.
Research shows that if you have gout, you are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.[2-5] One study, for example, suggested that gout increases your chances of getting type 2 diabetes by 45%.
This is very important to understand, because if you have signs and symptoms of gout, you need to know that it isn't just the pain you have to worry about. Gout may be doing even more serious long-term harm than you realize by increasing your risk for diabetes.
But if you have gout, there is hope. If you treat your gout, your risk of diabetes goes down. Several studies have suggested that treating gout can reduce harmful complications and reduce your type 2 diabetes risk.[3,6]
How to manage gout, reduce diabetes risk, and improve your health
Fortunately, there are many things you can do yourself to get your gout under control. And many of the same things that help you to treat and manage gout will also help you to become healthier and prevent future health problems like diabetes as well.
For example, being overweight is one of the major risk factors for gout, and it is also one of the major risk factors for diabetes. If you can get your weight under control, you just might be able to manage your gout and reduce your diabetes risk at the same time.
Here are some of the most important steps to take to manage gout and keep yourself healthy:
1. Eat a healthy diet. As part of your healthy diet, avoid foods high in purines like red meat, organ meats, and some types of seafood (like sardines, mussels, trout, scallops, and tuna). And stay away from sugary foods and beverages, as these can also trigger gout.
2. Lose weight. Being overweight or obese increases your chances of having gout and other health concerns like diabetes, so focus on lifestyle and diet to work towards a healthy weight.
3. Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to have gout. Beer and hard liquor are especially important to avoid if you have gout.
4. Get active. Choose low-impact activities that are easy on your joints. The more active you can be, the better. This can help keep your risk for other chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease low.
5. Work with your doctor. Work alongside your healthcare provider to come up with an effective treatment plan that works for you. It's important to monitor your overall health – not just one condition like gout – to ensure you are preventing chronic conditions like diabetes the best you can.
Gout is an incredibly painful condition. But it's also more than that. It may be a warning sign of more serious trouble like type 2 diabetes coming down the road.
If you have symptoms of gout, it's important to understand what causes gout and what makes it worse so that you can relieve your pain and prevent flare ups. Additionally, it is also essential to know that gout increases your risk for serious health complications like type 2 diabetes.
To relieve your pain and limit your risk, it is key to focus on a healthy diet and lifestyle.
But don't worry. You don't have to take the journey towards better health alone. Lark's Diabetes Prevention Program will support you every step of the way with proven methods to get you back on track with healthy habits.
- Gout. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed July 27 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/gout.html.
- Kim SC, Liu J, Solomon DH. Risk of incident diabetes in patients with gout: a cohort study. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015;67(1):273-80.
- Fang YJ, Chung YL, Lin CL, Lim YP. Association between Gout, Urate-Lowering Therapy, and Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Nationwide Population-Based Retrospective Cohort Study. Biomed Res Int. 2020;2020:6358954.
- Pan A, Teng GG, Yuan JM, Koh WP. Bidirectional Association between Diabetes and Gout: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Sci Rep. 2016;6:25766.
- Tung YC, Lee SS, Tsai WC, Lin GT, Chang HW, Tu HP. Association Between Gout and Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Am J Med. 2016;129(11):1219.e17-1219.e25.
- Demidowich AP, Levine JA, Onyekaba GI, et al. Effects of colchicine in adults with metabolic syndrome: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2019;21(7):1642-1651.