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Santa Claus Goes Public About His Gout

Santa Claus Goes Public About His Gout

The December issue of North Pole News featured Santa hobbling around with a large, painful, swollen big toe. It seems it all started after he ate a large burger and a beer. It started up so quickly it has really made it hard to get in and out of his sleigh.

Santa reportedly called Dr. Robert Keenan of Duke University’s Gout Clinic to discuss his symptoms. Dr. Keenan told Santa, “You’ve got the classic symptoms of gout, a type of arthritis caused by the breakdown of purine from certain foods. When purine metabolizes, it releases uric acid crystals. These crystals are typically excreted in the kidneys; but not so well in people with gout.”

“It must have been that burger and beer,” Santa responded. “Probably,” said the doctor. “The largest source of purines is in organ meats like liver and kidney. Red meats and shellfish are another source and so is beer and whiskey (wine has a bit less purines). The good news is that if you lose some weight and drink lots of water, it will flush out the uric acid crystals through your kidneys and lower your risk.”

Santa did not appreciate the comment on his weight but said after the holiday he would work on his diet again.

Dr. Keenan went on to tell Santa that, “uric acid crystals stay at high levels in the blood and sprinkle down like sediment into the joints, and that leads to inflammation and pain so bad that even touching the skin with Christmas stocking can be unbearable.”

Santa nodded his head.

Keenan told Santa, “The most common joint that is affected is the one at the base of the big toe; exactly what happened to you. But the ankles and knees are the next most common places.” Santa also found out gout is much more common in men, but after menopause, lower estrogen levels can reduce a women’s ability to clear uric acid crystals from the urine.

Santa made a mental note about this in case Mrs. Claus developed a painful joint and downloaded a menopause ebook.

The pain of gout usually comes on quickly, and after a day or so, it starts to subside. But over time, the crystals, which stay in the joint, can destroy the entire joint.

Santa found out he could be getting symptoms of gout either because his kidneys can’t excrete uric acid well enough or because he eats too many foods that contain purine, especially during the Christmas season; and that overloads his kidneys.

Santa got off the phone and searched the Internet and found out that 8 million Americans have gout and if he doesn’t take action, it could become chronic gout, a type of arthritis, with sore achy joints.

Sometimes the uric acid crystals can even deposit in the soft tissues of the body like the elbows, ears, and finger joints.

Santa decided to fly in early to see the doctor. He found out that to make the diagnosis, the doctor must place a small sterile needle into the inflamed joint and remove a tiny drop of fluid to look at under a microscope to look for uric acid crystals.

In the meantime, Dr. Keenan suggested starting daily exercise like going for a walk and helping the elves load the sleigh. He also suggested taking analgesics like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory treatments. If those fail, he’ll get a prescription for colchicine and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

He also started changing his diet. Now Santa:

  • Limits servings of meat, poultry and fish to 4 to 6 ounces at any one meal since they all contain purine.
  • Eats less fat. The more fat eaten, the harder it is to excrete uric acid.
  • Replaced most of the meats, poultry, fatty fish and shellfish with vegetables, beans and legumes.
  • Steers clear of beer. Alcohol in general makes it harder for kidneys to excrete uric acid, but beer is the biggest offender followed by hard spirits. According to Mayo Clinic, it’s ok to drink one to two 5-ounce servings of wine daily without increasing your risk of an attack.
  • Eats little high-fructose corn syrup. Santa reads the labels. Soft drinks and juice drinks are a real risk for flaring up. Pure fruit juices that are 100% fruit don’t seem to be a problem.
  • Eats complex carbohydrates. Santa says, “It’s not easy eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and skipping the refined sugar, white bread and candy, but it’s worth it!”
  • Drinks lots of water. Eight to 12 glasses of water can flush the crystals through your kidneys and help eliminate the crystals. Some research suggests drinking several cups of coffee daily is a good way for men to lower their gout risk.

So if gout has your goat, do what Santa does; follow doctor’s orders.

Based on my recent interview with Dr. Robert Keenan, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Duke University.

For more valuable health information, sign up for my Health Accelerator three-video series. Learn the diagnostic tests and test results you must have to stay well, how to prepare for your annual exam, and 5 tips to jump-start your health today.

Read more: Aging, Arthritis, Body Image, Christmas, Eating for Health, General Health, Hands & Feet, Health, Healthy Aging, Menopause, Obesity, Stay Well With Dr. Seibel, , , , , , ,

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Dr. Mache Seibel

Women's health expert and guest speaker Dr. Mache Seibel addresses consumers' critical needs from weight control to HRTmenopause and beyond. He served on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 19 years and is founder of My Menopause Magazine on the Apple Newsstand ( Download the Free App and first Free issue. He works with companies and organizations to bring exciting educational content to consumers. Visit his award-winning website to sign up for his free monthly newsletter.


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4:23PM PST on Jan 26, 2014

My biggest help in treating my gout was to determine what foods my body was most sensitive to and would trigger flare ups. This was hard as I also have osteo arthritis in all my joints. But I have managed to determine a few foods that act as triggers, and if I stay away from them I can go gout free for months and months. Shrimp is a biggy and so are beans. I rarely eat those. I guess the key is 'know your own body'. I also keep a prescription of a gout medication handy, just in case I do have a flare up.

8:16AM PST on Jan 4, 2013

Thank you. :-)

11:29AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

You are a fantastic, imaginative writer!

7:10PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

This is pretty funny but still spewing all the same old worn out misconceptions about gout that is only causes more and more people to end up with gout every day.

Why doesn't the establishment come right out and say it: "gout is caused by all the "edible food-like substances" that come in boxes, bags, cans, and bottles.

What passes for food these days is criminal. Put on top of the chronic dehydration and some synthetic, toxic chemicals that are in the air, water, food, and skin/hair care products, we are sure to be seeing "childhood gout" in the next 20 years.

So cut the crap about high purine foods; gout is not caused by a sudden rise in people eating liver, anchovies and sweetbreads. Gout is following the same curve as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Start taking a look at how the inner body condition becomes to acidic OVERALL. It's poor kidney function and that's all there is to it.

Bert Middleton

12:13PM PST on Dec 22, 2012

Do you guys really believe this Santa stuff.
/ turn the letters in Santa around and you get Satan!
Although its just a Spanish word meaning Saint.
Just a coincidence.

1:31AM PST on Dec 19, 2012


12:59AM PST on Dec 18, 2012

I had gout in my feet and ankles at age 21. Was off all organ meats (didn't like them anyway!) and all red meat (I lived at home and we were typical meat/potato/veggie eaters). It finally cleared and I have had a few flare ups since then, and I am 60 now. As a type 2 diabetic, the last time I had a flare up was about 5 years ago in my hands. I was told not to eat whole grains, meats of course, and no spinach. Turns out the big thing for me was the spinach, so on the advice of a diabetic nutrionist, I reduced the amount of spinach I was eating.

Thank you Wayne L for the tip on diet cola. I have achey fingers and knees the past while but not the usual swelling. As a diet cola drinker, I wasn't aware it would contribute.

11:07PM PST on Dec 16, 2012

man i'm sorry to hear this great guy had gout.

10:01AM PST on Dec 16, 2012


6:27AM PST on Dec 16, 2012

I just hope Santa is well enough on Christmas Eve! (and in the New Year, obviously!)

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