Tips for Traveling with Gout

Health Writer
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Gout attacks can be scary while in the comfort of your own home, but the possibility of having a flare while on the road or overseas could spoil your work trip or vacation entirely. Following these steps before and during your travels can help you have a pain-free experience.

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Be mindful of your daily habits

If you are planning to travel, avoid triggering your gout by being mindful of your diet, stress level, and hydration during the weeks leading up to your trip. Try to stay relaxed and get a good night’s sleep. Stay hydrated by drinking the daily recommended amount of water, and don’t indulge in foods or drinks that you know are high in purine or trigger your gout.

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Take your medicine with you

While traveling, make sure to pack your prescription medication. Keep it close to you so that you can easily access it no matter where you are. Your doctor may be able to write a travel prescription in case you suffer an attack while away from home. If you don’t have a prescription or forget your medication, remember that most pharmacies work from the same system and can help you get the medicine you need.

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Keep on moving

Exercise and motion are key to manage gout. Add slow blood circulation to already high uric acid levels and you're prone to a gout attack. Keep this in mind when traveling on a plane or train where you may be sitting in a small space with little leg room for an extended period. Wander the aisles to keep your blood circulating. If you are driving, stop frequently to walk and stretch. Also, keep your feet warm with socks and comfortable shoes.

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Stay hydrated

Dehydration can trigger a gout attack, so make sure that you keep water with you and drink enough water so that your urine is nearly clear. If you can, travel with your own drinks. Consider packing alkaline water and cherry or celery juice, which reduce the risk of gout attacks by preventing uric acid from reabsorbing and encouraging its release. You’ll want to avoid fluids that trigger gout like alcoholic drinks, and sugary drinks with high fructose corn syrup.

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Grocery shop for success

Before you arrive at your destination, research the nearest grocery or health food store. Pick up fruits and vegetables that you can keep in your room and eat on the go. Make healthy choices when eating out by avoiding foods high in purine like organ meats, red meat, and seafood, and limit protein from meat to 4 to 7 oz. per day.

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Reach for foods that will help, not hinder

Instead of meats, eat low-fat or fat-free dairy, which is high in protein and decreases uric acid.  Beans or lentils have moderate purine levels, and are a good source of protein. Vegetables that are high in purines do not affect gout, so focusing on a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables is ideal to maintaining good health while you travel.

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Supplement

Supplements are easy to pack and prevent gout attacks by lowering uric acid. The Arthritis Foundation recommends omega 3 fatty acids, omega 6 fatty acids, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) to lower inflammation; folic acid to break down homocysteine (a contributor to high uric acid levels); vitamin C to reduce gout attacks; and herbs like turmeric, Devil’s claw, and bromelain for their anti-inflammatory effects.

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Don’t forego your exercise routine

Keeping a regular exercise routine helps manage gout, and traveling is not the time to give that up because inactivity worsens your condition. If you are unable to go to a nearby gym, low-impact cardio like power walking can be done anywhere. If you are on a beach vacation, swimming helps the mobility and functioning of your joints. There are also plenty of simple exercises as easy as stretching that you can do in the comfort of your bedroom.

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Schedule your days

Plan ahead to decrease your chances of a gout attack. Schedule reminders to help you to remember to take your prescribed medication, drink water, and eat well-balanced meals. Being prepared also helps to relieve travel-related stress, another trigger for gout attacks.