Sunday, March 28, 2010

Prevent a Gout Attack After a Plane Ride

Around two years ago, I had a 13-hour flight to Seattle.  And since my dad is not a crook and I don't have an Internet company ready for IPO, I had an economy class seat.  ;-) Well it was uncomfortable enough.  I had a window seat somewhere at the back so very little movement was possible.  I was also pretty far from the rest room so I sucked it in and just bore my thirst.  Naturally, by the time I walked out, my entire body was stiff.

That evening, I went out for some Burrito and beer in the 13 degree weather.  Yummy!  The morning after, I was already in pain.  By afternoon, I was hobbling.  By early evening, I couldn't even walk and had trouble sleeping because my knee was throbbing in pain like you can't imagine.  Now, multiply that experience by 7 more days and you'll understand what I went through.

So what happened?  

A couple of things could have happened, but I'll focus on what to do during the airplane ride first.  I scanned the Internet for similar experiences, and there were.  In fact, Gout is only one of the conditions that could cause you pain after a plane ride.  I saw a couple of others where your blood vessels will clot.   For gout, there are two basic things that impacted me I believe. 
  • The stiffness in the joints for over half a day caused some fluid build-up in the joints.  Movement is important in preventing gout.
  • The cranky Northwest stewardesses just gave me around 16 ounces of water in the entire flight. I didn't ask for more either since I didn't want to keep urinating.  It was inconvenient.
So next time, my suggestion to myself and everyone else to prevent a gout attack after a long plane ride is to take the time to stroll around the cabin whenever you can.   Always ask for water.  It's so much easier to pee six times in a cramped area than to bear excruciating pain for a week.

I think there are also a couple of things I can do before the plane ride that everyone can try as well.  Take allopurinol religiously.  Admittedly, I skip my medication lots of times.  The lower my uric acid can be before the flight, I figure the less chances I would have of getting a gout attack.  Thus, from a diet standpoint, a week before the flight, be stricter:  less meat, more bananas, citrus and alkaline water.

Take it seriously.  The only thing worse than being in excruciating pain is to have that pain away from home and all alone.

Good luck!


  1. Ouch! You have my sympathies.

    Plane rides are very bad for gout, especially with the dehydration, but so is sitting still anywhere for long periods with the legs bent. I used to get this problem on long car journeys and prolonged periods sat at a desk.

    Frequent breaks to walk around are a great help - but it takes a while to get into the habit. Perhaps that's another benefit of extra water - you just have to get up!

    Another good help is the seated exercises that a lot of airlines encourage you to do - anything to encourage blood flow is good.

    Maybe you should add "immobility" to your "Hurts You" list?

  2. Thank you for visiting fellow gout sufferer.

    You're right. Drinking more water automatically forces more movement. Good thinking.

    Good suggestion on the mobility too. I will add that to my Hurts You list.