Home Care For A Gout Flare
If your doctor has diagnosed you with gout and given you medicine for a flare-up, take the medicine as directed when you know youâre having one. In most cases, that will probably be as soon as the first signs begin.
Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as celecoxib, indomethacin, meloxicam, or sulindac or suggest you take over-the-counter NSAIDs, like naproxen or ibuprofen. Depending on your medical history, your doctor may prescribe steroids or other medicines to reduce inflammation, such as colchicine .
In some cases, you already may be taking medicine like colchicine to prevent gout flare-ups. Your doctor may have also suggested:
If you canât take allopurinol or it is not effective, your doctor may prescribe . It should be used with caution, however, because it has been linked to increased risk of death from heart disease and from other causes.
Just because you have a flare doesn’t mean these medicines aren’t working. In the first few months that you take them, you may have an attack as your body adjusts to the drug. Your doctor will likely have given you something to take if this happens, too.
If youâve been taking preventive gout medicine for a long time and youâre having flares for the first time in a while, call your doctor. They may talk to you about changing your dosage or your medicine.
Acute Attack Pain Management
Home remedies. Reducing inflammation during an acute gout attack will provide pain relief.
- Ice. Apply ice to the affected area to reduce swelling. Do not apply ice directly to the skin. Use an ice pack or wrap a towel around the ice. Apply ice for about 20 minutes at a time.
- Elevate. Frequently raise and keep the affected area above the level of the heart.
- Rest. Move the affected area as little as possible while symptoms are present.
- Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. If the gout attack is mild, anti-inflammatory drugs available without a prescription may relieve pain. Because there are serious side effect of using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs even the over-the-counter strength be sure to check with your doctor before taking them.
Prescription medications. Your doctor may recommend a prescription-strength non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine such as indomethacin.
Colchicine is also given to reduce inflammation during an acute gout attack. This drug has recently been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for treatment of gout. Like all medications, colchicine has side effects that you will need to discuss with your doctor.
Your doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids for acute gout attacks. These are strong anti-inflammatory medications that can be taken either in pill form, intravenously, or injected into the painful joint. Cortisone may improve the severe inflammation very quickly.
How Is Gout Treated
Gout can be effectively treated and managed with medical treatment and self-management strategies. Your health care provider may recommend a medical treatment plan to
- Manage the pain of a flare. Treatment for flares consists of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, steroids, and the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine.
- Prevent future flares. Making changes to your diet and lifestyle, such as losing weight, limiting alcohol, eating less purine-rich food , may help prevent future attacks. Changing or stopping medications associated with hyperuricemia may also help.
- Prevent tophi and kidney stones from forming as a result of chronic high levels of uric acid. Tophi are hard, uric acid deposits under the skin. For people with frequent acute flares or chronic gout, doctors may recommend preventive therapy to lower uric acid levels in the blood using drugs like allopurinol, febuxostat, and pegloticase.
In addition to medical treatment, you can manage your gout with self-management strategies. Self-management is what you do day to day to manage your condition and stay healthy, like making healthy lifestyle choices. The self-management strategies described below are proven to reduce pain and disability, so you can pursue the activities important to you.
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Home Remedies And Lifestyle
Gout symptoms are caused by the excessive accumulation of uric acid, a condition known as hyperuricemia. Over time, the build-up can lead to the formation of uric acid crystals in and around a joint, triggering severe and protracted bouts of pain and inflammation.
As such, gout treatment is focused on two things: the reduction of uric acid and the alleviation of gout pain.
Myth: If You Stay Away From Liver And Alcohol You’ll Avoid Gout Attacks
Truth: Alcoholic drinks especially beer and organ meats such as liver and some fish, including anchovies and sardines, are very high in a class of natural substances known as purines. When the body breaks down purines it creates uric acid, so eating a lot of purine-rich foods does increase the risk of an attack. But while avoiding these foods may reduce attacks, it won’t halt them, says Reveille.
Gout can be life threatening if left untreated.
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Applying Ice To Affected Joints
Applying a cloth-covered ice pack to the joint can help reduce gout-related inflammation.
Try applying an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel for 1015 minutes at a time to help relieve pain.
If gout is affecting the feet, a person can also use a pack of frozen vegetables covered with a washcloth, as this may drape more easily over the feet.
Heightened stress can worsen a persons gout symptoms. While it is not always possible to eliminate all sources of stress, the following tips might help:
- exercising, such as taking a brief walk, if the pain does not limit movement
- asking for time off from work
- journaling or reading a favorite book
- listening to music
Managing A Gout Flare
Gout flares are unexpected and painful heres how to get a handle on them.
Few things in life are more painful than a gout flare, so if youre awakened in the wee hours by a joint that is tender, swollen, red and radiating heat, youll want to act fast. Heres what you can do when a gout flare starts to ease the pain and reduce the risk of others.
Take Medicine You Have on Hand. Start treatment immediately with over-the-counter ibuprofen or naproxen , but never take aspirin, which can worsen a flare. If you have had a flare before and your doctor has prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication to take in the event of another, take your prescribed medication as your doctor directed. If you are already taking a uric acid-lowering drug to reduce the risk of flares, continue to take that drug.
Ice Down. Applying an ice pack to the painful joint may help ease pain and inflammation. Wrap a pack in a dish cloth and apply to the area for 20- to 30-minutes at a stretch several times a day.
Let your doctor know what is going on right away. She may prescribe a new medication, or have you come to the office for a joint fluid test or an injection of a corticosteroid to start relieving inflammation quickly. Getting treatment within the first 24 hours of the start of a flare can lessen its length and severity.
Get a Cane. Walking with a cane during an acute gou flare can help keep pressure off your painful joint.
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What Foods Should You Eat
Although a gout-friendly diet eliminates many foods, there are still plenty of low-purine foods you can enjoy.
Foods are considered low-purine when they have less than 100 mg of purines per 3.5 ounces .
Here are some low-purine foods that are generally safe for people with gout (20,
- Fruits: All fruits are generally fine for gout. Cherries may even help prevent attacks by lowering uric acid levels and reducing inflammation (
- Vegetables: All vegetables are fine, including potatoes, peas, mushrooms, eggplants and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Legumes: All legumes are fine, including lentils, beans, soybeans and tofu.
- Nuts: All nuts and seeds.
- Whole grains: These include oats, brown rice and barley.
- Dairy products: All dairy is safe, but low-fat dairy appears to be especially beneficial (
- Beverages:Coffee, tea and green tea.
- Herbs and spices: All herbs and spices.
- Plant-based oils: Including canola, coconut, olive and flax oils.
Pain Relief Without Medicine
Use cold. If your pain isn’t too bad, try cold packs or compresses on the joint to lower inflammation and soothe the ache. Wrap ice in a thin towel and apply it to the joint for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Do not apply ice to your hands or feet if you have nerve problems from diabetes or other causes.
Rest the joint. It’s a good idea to rest it until the pain eases up. You probably won’t want to move it much anyway. If you can, raise the joint on a pillow or other soft object.
Drink water. When your body doesnât have enough water, your uric acid levels rise even higher. Stay hydrated to help keep those levels normal.
Watch what you eat and drink. Foods that are high in substances called purines, such as some seafood, organ meats like liver, and fatty foods, can raise the uric acid in your blood even more. So can fructose-sweetened drinks and alcohol — especially beer.
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Myth: Only Wealthy And Obese People Get Gout
Truth: People of all sizes get gout although extra pounds increase the risk, says John Reveille, M.D., director of rheumatology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Gout is also more common in people who have other, often weight-related health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure or cholesterol. And while income has nothing to do with the condition, genes do play a part: If your parents had gout, you’re more likely to have it as well.
Gout is not a gender-specific disease.
What Can Increase Your Risk
A high level of uric acid in the blood is the main factor that increases your risk of developing gout. However, it’s still uncertain why some people with a high level of uric acid in the blood develop gout, while others with an equally high level don’t.
Other factors that may increase your risk of developing gout are outlined below.
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Using Tart Cherry Juice For Gout
Tart cherry juice may help decrease uric acid levels and inflammation in gout. Research is limited, with often small numbers of study participants and short-term follow-up.
Nevertheless, a 2019 review of six studies that looked at the effect of cherry juice or cherry extract intake on gout concluded that cherry intake was associated with a reduced risk of gout attacks. Researchers did note that larger, more long-term studies are needed to clarify this association.
When choosing tart cherry juice, be sure to look for unsweetened varieties to help reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet.
Myth: Gout Is Painful But It Won’t Kill You
Truth: Gout can’t kill you directly, but it can cause serious health problems that may eventually kill you, says Robert Keenan, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Duke University. It can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke, and it also may be linked to insulin resistance, the body’s shrinking ability to use insulin to lower blood sugar. If gout is untreated, you can develop clumps of uric acid crystals called tophi, which can become infected and life threatening.Join AARP Today Receive access to exclusive information, benefits and discounts.
There are prescription drugs that can treat gout.
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Other Ways To Treat Gout
Medicine is considered the most effective treatment method for gout, but there are lifestyle changes you can make to manage your symptoms during a gout attack, or help prevent gout attacks from happening. Learn more about other ways to manage symptoms of gout during an attack here. Learn more about preventing future gout attacks here.
Educational content made possible by Horizon Therapeutics.
What To Do During An Attack
- take any medication you’ve been prescribed as early as possible after you notice an attack this should start to have an effect within two or three days
- rest and raise the limb
- avoid knocking or damaging the affected joint
- keep the joint cool remove surrounding clothing and apply an ice pack, such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel
- ensure you’re well hydrated
Apply the ice pack to your joint for around 20 minutes. Don’t apply ice directly to your skin and don’t apply it for more than 20 minutes at a time because this could damage the skin.
If necessary, you can keep reapplying an ice pack to your skin during an attack, but you should wait until your skin has returned to a normal temperature first.
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What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Gout
Consider asking your healthcare provider:
- What is causing the gout?
- Do I have any joint damage?
- What can I do to prevent future attacks?
- Can any gout medications help me?
- How long will I need to take gout medications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Gout is a painful form of arthritis. Extra uric acid in your body creates sharp crystals in the joints, leading to swelling and extreme tenderness. Gout usually starts in the big toe but can affect other joints. Gout is a treatable condition, and the uric acid level can be decreased by medication and lifestyle changes. Talk to your healthcare provider about medications that can reduce uric acid levels. They can also discuss changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle to prevent and reduce gout attacks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/15/2020.
Hot And Cold Compresses
Switching between a hot compress for three minutes and a cold compress for 30 seconds on the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling that occurs during a gout attack.
In most people, a first acute gout attack comes without warning, and there arent any other symptoms of high uric acid. Prevention efforts for gout are focused on preventing future attacks or lessening their severity.
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What Can Trigger A Gout Attack
Several things can cause the crystals to shake loose into your joint cavity, triggering an attack. These include:
- a knock or injury to the joint
- an illness that may make you feverish
- having an operation
- having an unusually large meal, especially a fatty meal
- drinking too much alcohol
- starting urate lowering therapy, especially at a high dose, or not taking your treatment regularly each day.
Myth: Women Aren’t Afflicted By Gout
Truth: Men and women alike can develop the disease, although men are more vulnerable earlier in life. “Gout is 10 times more common in men than in women, until women reach menopause. The incidence of new cases of gout in men and women tends to equal out after age 60 or so,” says Herbert Baraf, M.D., clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Throbbing pain on the tip of your big toe? You might have gout.
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Managing Symptoms And The Underlying Triggers
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by the buildup and crystallization of uric acid in a joint. Depending on the severity of an attack, treatment may involve over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate pain, as well as behavioral modifications to reduce the frequency of attacks. Chronic attacks may require prescription medications to help reduce uric acid levels in the blood.
What Is Uric Acid
Uric acid is a waste byproduct of purine breakdown in the body. Purines are naturally produced in the body, as well as found in some foods. As purines are broken down, uric acid is created. Normally uric acid is either reabsorbed in the body or excreted via the urine and feces.
When there are more purines in the body than it can process, uric acid builds up in the bloodstream. This is called hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia can cause gout and/or kidney stones in some people, while others have no signs or symptoms at all.
Verywell / Alexandra Gordon
Treatment for gout often includes medications, diet modification, and lifestyle changes, such as managing weight and quitting smoking. The foods you eat can have a direct impact on gout flares.
During a gout attack, modifying your diet may help decrease the length of the flare. Continuing to follow a gout-friendly diet, specifically a low-purine diet, may help prevent the risk of future gout attacks up to five fold.
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What Are Future Possible Treatments Of Gout
Fortunately, present medications are successful in the vast majority of gout patients. But some patients cannot tolerate our present arsenal of gout medications. For others, these agents are not sufficiently effective. Therefore, new treatments are continually being sought. Some of the more promising include anakinra, rilonacept, canakinumab, BCX4208 and arhalofenate.
What Are Some Home Cure For Gout
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