Gout, known as the “old man’s disease," has steadily become more common among people in their 20s and 30s. Even though this generation is the most health-conscious, avoiding vices and paying close attention to their consumption, there has been a 30%-40% increase in gout cases within the demographic. Studies have shown that certain lifestyle habits among millennials are increasing their risk of gout.
Fatty food and alcohol consumption
Busy schedules and demanding work hours tend to leave young people drained and tired by the end of the day. This leaves most to order fast food or other unhealthy options to escape the extra task of cooking. Rich meat, oily seafood, and alcohol are all filled with purines that can lead to increased uric acid levels. The weekend might be an opportunity to do some healthy cooking but it’s also the time to blow off some steam with even more junk and alcohol in preparation for the next work week.
Medication for pre-existing health concerns
Diuretics such as chlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide for high blood pressure, medication for Type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol are all risk factors for increasing uric acid. Genetics also play a role in gout affliction. Others are left unaware of their own undiagnosed conditions that can contribute to increased risk. Make sure to consult your family medical history before going on new medication or as part of your annual checkup.
Sedentary life filled with sugar
Sitting is the new smoking and prolonged inactivity has been known to cause obesity, bone problems, and even raised levels of anxiety and depression. But, having a sedentary life filled with sweet treats and sugary energy drinks to get through the day is also linked to gout risk. Despite a desire for more outdoor activities, young people constantly find themselves locked in front of a screen watching Netflix or going through Excel files.
Stress indirectly encourages unhealthy habits
Chronic stress can trigger coping mechanisms like binge-eating and drinking to relax. The prevalent burnout culture common among millennials encourages people to “play harder” to compensate for overworked days in the office. Caffeine, processed food, sugar, and alcohol are popular ways to deal with tension and exhaustion. Learning to manage stress with proper sleep, diet, and down time is more sustainable in the long run.
Denial and embarrassment
Gout is only for old people in their 50s and over, right? While majority of patient belong to that age group, it’s normal for younger adult to experience gout. Because of the misconception, young people end up denying they have a serious medical condition that needs treatment or they hide the fact because they’re too embarrassed. Understanding that having gout in your 20s or 30s is possible and can be linked to various causes can save a lot of time and money by seeking medical attention as soon as they feel discomfort and pain. Sharing information about the causes of gout can break the stigma surrounding the disease and encourage more adults to get help.
Gout by itself won’t necessarily put your life at risk however it can and will lead to other more serious diseases if not treated and maintained. Unmanaged gout can cause an increased risk for heart attacks, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and insulin resistance among others. If you think you’re on the way to suffering from gout, it might be time to reevaluate your lifestyle and consult a professional for a check-up.