Gout And Alcohol: Does Drinking Affect Arthritis?

Last Updated: August 8, 2019

alcoholism and gout

Gout is inflammatory arthritis, which manifests as attacks of severe pain, tenderness, swelling, redness, and hotness of the joints, typically of the hands and toes. This inflammation is caused by deposition of uric acids in the joints, and alcohol is one of the factors that can cause this abnormal deposition.

What Is Gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis or joint inflammation characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, and redness in the joints, especially of the feet and toes.

It occurs as a result of uric acid accumulation and deposition in the joints. Uric acid is a product of the breakdown of substances called purines. Purines are found in certain foods, including seafood and red meat.

When uric acid accumulates in the body, it deposits as uric acid crystals in the joints – as well as the kidneys – causing severe inflammation.

The real question here, however, is does drinking alcohol cause gout? To determine this, one needs to understand the alcohol and gout mechanism.

Link Between Gout and Alcohol Consumption

One of the risk factors for gout is alcohol consumption. Others include high intake of purine-rich foods and dehydration.

The link between alcohol and gout is that it contains purines – which the body breaks down to uric acid. It also causes the breakdown of genetic materials called nucleotides, which are also sources of purines. In addition, alcohol increases the secretion of uric acid in the body and reduces its excretion through the kidneys.

Therefore, heavy consumption promotes the uric acid accumulation and, in turn, deposition in joints, increasing one’s risk of developing gout.

Does Alcohol Consumption Cause Gout?

Does alcohol cause gout? The short answer is yes.

Although not all persons that consume it develop gout, a high intake significantly raises one’s risk of having it.

With alcohol being a rich source of purines and a stimulant for uric acid production, it will increase the blood level of uric acid in an individual that consumes more than a moderate amount. This, in turn, will cause gout in that individual.

gout infographics

 Alcohol Causes Gout Flare-Ups

Does alcohol cause gout flare-ups? Yes, it does trigger attacks or flare-ups of gout. It’s role in uric acid production, and purine metabolism in the body causes a sudden rise in uric acid content in the blood, exacerbating an individual’s symptoms.

A recent study which investigated anecdotal reports of gout flare-ups revealed that alcohol was ten times more likely to cause flare-ups than other factors such as eating red meat or dehydration. This may suggest that of all gout causes, alcohol is one of the most important.

Can an Individual with Gout Drink Alcohol Safely?

Heavy intake of alcohol generally has many complications, including psychological complications such as the negative connection between alcohol and sex drive. Many people may not know that heavy drinking may also cause joint inflammation.

Doctors advise people with gout to ensure low blood uric acid levels. Because of the established connection between alcoholism and gout, one of the ways one can achieve this is by avoiding alcohol.

For patients with gout, doctors may recommend limiting alcohol consumption to moderate levels or completely abstaining from it to reduce the risk and frequency of flare-ups.

Heavy consumption is associated with a significant risk of the disease and flare-ups. In addition, heavy consumption also links alcohol and pancreatitis, among other complications.

One symptom that may occur when one drinks too much in a short period is feeling stomach pain after drinking.

Alcoholic Drinks to Avoid if One Has Gout

It is important to know how alcohol affects gout and what to drink and avoid, as well. Although experts advise that people with gout should limit intake of alcohol regardless of the type, one should also know that these drinks don’t cause or trigger gout attacks equally.

Some drinks are associated with a much higher increase in uric acid accumulation and exacerbation of gout, while others may carry a minimal risk – these ones are the gout friendly alcohols.

Drinks associated with a significant risk of gout include beer and liquor, because of the high content of not only ethanol but also guanosine, a purine that the body absorbs fast. This causes a rapid increase in uric acid levels in beer drinkers.

So what alcohol can you drink with gout? The answer is the alcohol with low strength, and some wines fall in this group.

Wine is associated with a lower risk of developing gout. However, it can also cause flare-ups just like other types of alcoholic drinks, but to a lower degree. That being said, wine may be considered the best alcohol for gout.

However, one should avoid drinking wine during pregnancy, as it poses a risk of several fetal abnormalities.

Get Help with Alcohol Addiction

Persons who are addicted to alcohol are at a greater risk of the disease and its flare-ups, among other side effects of alcohol use. It is, therefore, necessary for such individuals to seek help with addiction to get better and lower the risk of these complications.

One becomes addicted to it if it’s use and consequences take up a major part of one’s life; disrupting personal and interpersonal relationships, causing financial troubles and legal problems, and interfering with their work.

Alcohol treatment centers provide treatment for addiction to the drug. These facilities have addiction experts who evaluate an individual’s addiction status, initiate treatment programs, and conduct regular therapy sessions for the individual to achieve recovery and sobriety.

Some experts also recommend natural treatment for alcoholism such as nutritional supplementation, nutritional broths, herbs, and holistic medicine practices to keep an alcoholic on a healthy path to recovery.


Gregory Okhifun

Dr. Gregory Okhifun

Medical Reviewer

Dr. Okhifun is a passionate medical doctor, with over five years’ experience as a general practitioner. His passion for medical education led to his journey in medical writing. He has a wealth of experience writing for hospitals and medical centers, health organizations, telemedicine platforms, wellness organizations, medical tourism publications, addiction websites, and websites focused on nutrition and nutraceuticals.
He also serves as medical coordinator and content writer for Gerocare Solutions, for which he also volunteers as a health advisor/consultant for the elderly.
Dr. Okhifun enjoys traveling, meditation, and reading.

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