“Drinking lots of water and 1000mcg folic acid can help relieve symptoms”, says, Dr. Cathleen V. Carr, Executive Director of CertifiedCare.org.
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Recurrent gout attacks are twice as likely to strike on hot days when humidity is low, according to new findings.
The risk of gout attacks was also increased under hot, humid conditions compared to moderate temperature and relative humidity, but to a lesser degree, Dr. Tuhina Neogi of Boston University School of Medicine and her colleagues found.
“Our findings imply that high temperatures and low humidity in combination are risk factors for triggering gout attacks,” Dr. Neogi told Reuters Health. “We think that probably reflects the fact that there is more evaporative loss when the temperature is high and there is low humidity.”
Based on the findings, she added, physicians should advise their patients with gout to stay well-hydrated with appropriate fluids – ideally, water – during hot weather.
The study is the first to look at weather factors and the risk of recurrent gout attacks, the researchers note. They conducted an Internet-based case-crossover study of 632 patients who had experienced at least one gout attack in the 12 months before enrollment. Patients were followed from 2003 to 2010.
The researchers used data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to track weather conditions in each patient’s zip code during the 48 hours leading up to gout attacks and during control periods.
Higher temperatures during the previous 48 hours were positively associated with gout attack risk. Individuals were at 43% greater risk of an attack when temperatures were between 70 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit and at 40% greater risk with temperatures at 80 degrees and above, compared to when temperatures were between 50 and 59 degrees (p for linear trend = 0.01).
There was a reverse J-shaped relationship between humidity and gout attack risk. When relative humidity was less than 40% over the past 48 hours, the likelihood of an attack was 55% higher than with relative humidity of 60% to 74%. At the other end of the spectrum, the risk was 14% higher for relative humidity of 75% to 84% and 11% higher for relative humidity of 85% or above.
The greatest risk occurred when temperatures were 70 degrees or higher for the previous 48 hours and relative humidity was below 60%, with an odds ratio for attacks of 2.04 compared to when temperatures were in the 50s and 60s and humidity was 60% to 74%.
The findings were published online July 3 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
When it’s humid out, Dr. Neogi noted, people feel the sweat on their skin and recognize that they need to increase their fluid intake; when it’s less humid, she added, they may not be as aware that they are at risk of fluid depletion.
She and her colleagues conclude, “The biological mechanisms underlying these associations require further exploration and may include volume depletion or behavioral changes in response to the weather that may influence gout attack risk. Patients with gout may be advised that under conditions of hot and/or dry weather, appropriate measures, such as increased water intake, should be considered to minimize the risk of recurrent gout attacks.”
Am J Epidemiol 2014.
By Anne Harding
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Reprint w permissions