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Does drinking alcohol cause gout symptoms?

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Drinking any alcohol increases your chance of experiencing a gout flare-up. In general, alcohol may increase uric acid levels in the blood and affect how efficiently kidneys eliminate it in urine.
Medically reviewed by Nancy Carteron, M.D., FACR
Updated on

A buildup of uric acid in your body triggers gout. This may lead to the formation of crystals stored in or around your joints. Inflammation may then cause you to experience severe joint pain and swelling, common symptoms of gout.

Uric acid is a natural product created in the body during the breakdown and oxidation of a crystalline compound called purine.

Foods such as red meat, bacon, and seafood contain purines. Purines are also present in some forms of drinkable alcohol.

This article discusses how alcohol consumption is related to symptoms of gout.

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The mechanisms behind the link between alcohol and gout are not well understood.

Ethanol and water are the main components of alcoholic drinks.

Ethanol may inhibit the synthesis of proteins, a process that is essential to cell maintenance. This disturbance may lead to an increase in triglycerides in your blood and a higher chance of developing fatty liver.

Protein breakdown may also elevate your blood levels of purine, a compound directly related to the production of uric acid in your body. The higher the level of purine in your organism, the higher the production of uric acid. High uric acid is at the core of gout symptoms.

Additionally, alcohol can be a source of purine itself. Drinking large quantities of alcohol can significantly increase uric acid levels in your body and may also affect kidney function.

When your body produces too much uric acid, or your kidneys cannot eliminate its excess through urination, tiny crystals start forming in your kidneys and joints. In time, this leads to pain and inflammation, and in many cases, to conditions like gout.

The more alcohol you drink, the higher the chance your body will produce and accumulate high uric acid levels. If you already live with gout, alcohol consumption may trigger a flare-up.

A 2017 study found that about 14% of severe gout episodes are related to alcohol intake.

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What type of alcohol is more likely to cause gout symptoms?

Any alcoholic drink may increase your chance of gout symptoms. However, certain types of alcohol contain higher amounts of purine and may be more likely to cause trouble.

A 2017 review suggested that regular beer is the most likely to lead to gout because it has the highest purine content of all alcoholic beverages.

Is it safe to drink alcohol when you have gout?

Researchers have found that consuming any type of alcohol frequently or in high quantities significantly contributes to developing gout or experiencing flare-ups once you do. This is particularly the case if you drink beer.

When you have gout, managing your uric acid levels is of utmost importance. This means limiting or avoiding consuming foods and beverages that may contribute to uric acid production in the body. It also means that kidney health is essential.

If you have gout, your health professional may suggest you significantly cut back your alcohol intake or that you do not drink more than one alcoholic drink per day.

If you don’t have gout but may have a higher chance of developing the condition, avoiding alcohol consumption may help prevent the onset of gout.

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Foods and drinks to consider if you have gout

If you live with gout, making dietary adjustments may help you manage the condition.

Favoring fruits and vegetables over animal proteins may promote an anti-inflammatory effect that may also help you manage weight. This, in turn, may lower blood pressure and uric acid levels in your blood.


  • including large portions of fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains
  • opting for low fat or fat-free dairy products
  • limiting or eliminating red meats
  • avoiding shellfish, anchovies, and sardines
  • skipping drinks with high fructose levels
  • restricting or eliminating alcohol consumption

How is gout treated?

Managing gout may involve medications, physical activity, diet plans, and physical therapy.

For gout flares, your healthcare team may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen. For more intense symptoms, they may indicate colchicine (Colcrys, Golperba) as an anti-inflammatory.

To manage your levels of uric acid, your doctor may prescribe:

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Gout has many causes and triggers, and alcohol consumption may be one of them.

Purines, compounds found in alcohol, may be one factor that contributes to the production of uric acid. High uric acid levels in the blood may lead to the formation of crystals in your kidneys or joints and trigger gout symptoms.

The more alcohol you drink, the more likely you will experience a gout flare-up if you already live with the condition.

Consider discussing your alcohol consumption and symptoms with your health professional.

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