Whats The Outlook For People With Gout
Untreated gout can lead to permanent joint damage. The buildup of uric acid in the joints and soft tissue is called tophus. Some people with gout can also develop other health problems, such as severe arthritis, kidney stones and heart disease. Its important to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider.
How To Manage Gout Attacks
- Medically reviewed by
Gout attacks, also called flares or flare-ups, can come on suddenly and be extremely painful. During a gout attack you may have pain, swelling, and/or redness in your affected joint.Gout attacks can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. When you have acute gout, you may only have attacks once or twice a year. When you have chronic gout, attacks happen more regularly, with shorter breaks in between attacks.There are things you can do to manage your symptoms during gout attacks. The main goal of treatment during an attack is to decrease joint pain and swelling. If you already take a medicine to lower uric acid at the time of an attack, you should continue your regular treatment. If you do not already take a medicine to lower uric acid at the time of an attack, you should not start treatment during an attack, but rather start treatment afterwards, on your doctor’s advice.Some ways to manage gout pain and swelling during an attack are:
If the pain during a gout attack does not get better at all within 48 hours, call your doctor to ask about other treatments you can try.Treatments are also available to prevent gout attacks from happening in the first place. Having gout attacks more often can increase your chances of having even more attacks in the future, so controlling the condition from the start is important. Talk to your doctor about whether medicines to prevent gout attacks are right for you.
Medications To Treat Gout Attacks
Drugs used to treat gout flares and prevent future attacks include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .NSAIDs include over-the-counter options such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium , as well as more-powerful prescription NSAIDs such as indomethacin or celecoxib . NSAIDs carry risks of stomach pain, bleeding and ulcers.
- Colchicine. Your doctor may recommend colchicine , an anti-inflammatory drug that effectively reduces gout pain. The drug’s effectiveness may be offset, however, by side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Corticosteroids. Corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, may control gout inflammation and pain. Corticosteroids may be in pill form, or they can be injected into your joint. Side effects of corticosteroids may include mood changes, increased blood sugar levels and elevated blood pressure.
Also Check: Cherry Juice For Gout Mayo Clinic
The Role Of Diet In Gout Prevention
Dietary control may be sufficient in a patient with mildly elevated uric acid, for example, 7.0 mg/dL
For those with a higher level, for example, 10.0 mg/dL, diet alone will not usually prevent gout. For the latter, even a very strict diet only reduces the blood uric acid by about 1 mg/dL- not enough, in general, to keep uric acid from precipitating in the joints. The cutoff where patients with gout seem to dramatically reduce their number of attacks is when their uric acid level is taken below 6.0 mg/dL.4
Points To Remember About Gout
- Gout is a type of arthritis that causes pain and swelling in your joints, usually as flares that last for a week or two, and then go away.
- With early diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle changes, gout is one of the most controllable forms of arthritis.
- The most common symptom of gout is pain in the affected joint, such as the big toe.
- Your doctor may recommend taking medications to manage the cause of your gout and treat active gout flares, and making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Also Check: Allopurinol Side Effects Alcohol
Signs And Symptoms Of Gout
Any joint can be affected by gout, but it usually affects joints towards the ends of the limbs, such as the toes, ankles, knees and fingers.
Signs and symptoms of gout include:
- severe pain in one or more joints
- the joint feeling hot and very tender
- swelling in and around the affected joint
- red, shiny skin over the affected joint
Symptoms develop rapidly over a few hours and typically last three to 10 days. After this time the pain should pass and the joint should return to normal.
Almost everyone with gout will experience further attacks at some point, usually within a year.
Read more about the complications of gout.
How Will Gout Affect Me
Attacks can vary from person to person. Some people only have an attack every few years, while others have attacks every few months.
Without medication attacks tend to happen more often and other joints can become affected.
Having high urate levels and gout for a long time can lead to other health problems, including:
- narrowing of the arteries – which can lead to an increased risk of stroke or heart attacks or other heart problems
- osteoarthritis, which occurs when the urate crystals and hard tophi cause joint damage.
- an increased risk of developing kidney disease or worsening of the condition if you already have it
- kidney stones
- an increased risk of some cancers, especially prostate cancer
- mental health problems, including depression
- underactive thyroid
- erectile dysfunction in men.
If you take medication to lower your urate levels, and have a healthy diet and lifestyle, most of the damage and complications caused by gout can be stopped.
Treatments for gout are incredibly successful. There are two main parts to treating gout, which are:
- treating the acute attack
- treatments to prevent future attacks.
Recommended Reading: Is Pickle Juice Good For Gout
Gout And Your Kidneys
An overabundance of uric acid can lead to both kidney problems and gout. Uric acid that collects in the kidneys can form kidney stones, which can lead to complications like kidney disease and kidney failure, and also can indicate a likelihood of developing gout. If youve been diagnosed with gout, your uric acid levels are elevated and you should also be checked for kidney disease.
What To Do After A Gout Flare
While its possible to have an isolated gout attack, normally once gout strikes youll need prolonged therapy to manage it, says Dr. Saag. If you dont take regular uric-acid lowering medication or find another way to get your uric acid levels down cutting back on alcohol, losing weight, and cutting back on high-purine foods may make a difference over time you will likely experience shorter intervals between gout flares, he explains. Gout ultimately becomes a chronic arthritis, and it can be quite disabling.
You May Like: Onions Bad For Gout
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.
Gout In Children And Teens
If a child or teenager has gout, it is important that blood and urine tests be done to determine why gout has occurred. It is usually a sign of an underlying problem that is often easily treated.
In children, the first test to do if gout is suspected is to measure the blood uric acid level. If this is elevated , this could be a sign that gout is present. Other important procedures are for a doctor to insert a needle into the affected joint, withdraw fluid, and examine this fluid for uric acid crystals.
Causes of gout in children and teenagers include:
- Inherited conditions that cause over-production of uric acid. These include HPRT deficiency and PRPP synthetase overactivity. These disorders are uncommon but are easily tested for. Patients produce extra uric acid and can have gout and kidney stones containing uric acid. These conditions usually occur in boys but can occasionally happen in girls as well.
- Kidney diseases resulting in decreased ability of the body to get rid of uric acid. These can include:
– The most common type is due to mutations in the gene that produces a protein called uromodulin. In this condition, patients develop gout in their teenage years and have slow worsening of kidney failure over time. There are usually many other family members who have had gout or kidney disease.
– Any type of kidney disease can also cause gout in childhood.
Don’t Miss: Are Almonds Good For Gout
Gout Symptoms And Complications
Gout is not gout until symptoms occur. When they do, they usually come on suddenly and, at least initially, affect a single joint. Within hours, that joint becomes red, swollen, hot, and painful they’re called gout attacks for a reason. It’s easy to mistake a gout attack for a localized infection of a joint. The metatarsophalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is often the site of the first attack, but the knees, ankles, and joints between the many small bones that form the foot are also common sites. People who already have osteoarthritis the most common form of arthritis often experience their gout attacks in the joints of the finger
Take Your Gout Medication Regularly
In addition to the strategies described above, a doctor will usually recommend taking a prescription medication, such as allopurinol, that is proven effective in preventing gout attacks.
Allopurinol and other medications that lower the uric acid can have several benefits, including reducing gout flares, improving function and quality of life, increasing productivity at work, decreasing sick-days from work, and reducing gout-associated cost. Like most drugs, the long-term use of prescription gout medications carries a small potential of side effects and health risks.9 You should discuss the potential benefits and risks with your provider.
Read Also: Allopurinol And Alcohol Interaction
When Is Surgery Considered For Gout
The question of surgery for gout most commonly comes up when a patient has a large clump of urate crystals , which is causing problems. This may be if the tophus is on the bottom of the foot, and the person has difficulty walking on it, or on the side of the foot making it hard to wear shoes. An especially difficult problem is when the urate crystals inside the tophus break out to the skin surface. This then can allow bacteria a point of entry, which can lead to infection, which could even track back to the bone. Whenever possible, however, we try to avoid surgery to remove tophi. The problem is that the crystals are often extensive, and track back to the bone, so there is not a good healing surface once the tophus is removed. In some rare cases, such as when a tophus is infected or when its location is causing major disability, surgical removal may be considered.
Since it is hard to heal the skin after a tophus is removed, a skin graft may be needed. For this reason, we often try hard to manage the tophus medically. If we give high doses of medication to lower the urate level, such as allopurinol, over time the tophus will gradually reabsorb. In severe cases, we may consider using the intravenous medication pegloticase , since it lowers the urate level the most dramatically, and can lead to the fastest shrinkage of the tophus.
What Causes Gout
Gout is caused by a condition known as hyperuricemia, where there is too much uric acid in the body. The body makes uric acid when it breaks down purines, which are found in your body and the foods you eat. When there is too much uric acid in the body, uric acid crystals can build up in joints, fluids, and tissues within the body. Hyperuricemia does not always cause gout, and hyperuricemia without gout symptoms does not need to be treated.
You May Like: Pistachios Nuts And Gout
What You Can Do
If you think your condition is getting worse, talk to your doctor. They will give you medicine to keep your uric acid levels low and to try to prevent future attacks and complications.
Allopurinol treats chronic gout by lowering the uric acid produced in your body.
also lowers uric acid production but would be used with caution if you are at risk for heart or blood vessel disease.
Once you start taking these medicines, youâll need to take them for life so that your uric acid stays at the right levels.
Probenecid and lesinurad help the body get rid of more uric acid in your urine. Pegloticase and rasburicase can break down uric acid into a substance that your body can get rid of. They are only for very severe gout that doesnât get better with usual treatments.
Scientists are also testing new treatments for chronic gout. At the same time, researchers are getting a better understanding of how the body makes and breaks down uric acid. Insights from this research could lead to new treatments in the future.
The Role Of Physical Activity In Prevention Of Gout
Along with diet, physical activity can help with weight loss, and gout has been associated with being overweight.7 in patients with well-established gout, especially if X-rays have demonstrated joint damage in the foot, a low-impact exercise program is reasonable. An exercise program combined with diet in gout can reduce risk for attacks.7 If an attack seems to be coming on in the lower extremity, patients are well-advised to try to get off their feet, since impact seems to worsen gout attacks. Clues to an attack of gout coming on include local swelling, heat, redness, and tenderness in a joint, especially in the foot, ankle, or knee. Some patients have fever and chills as the first warning that an attack of gout is coming on.
Read Also: Are Onions High In Purines
What Does A Gout Attack Look And Feel Like
Symptoms of a gout attack on joints are similar no matter which joint is affected. When gout flares up, you will experience extreme pain and stiffness in the affected joints and the area will also be red and warm to the touch. Inflammation from the gout attack can also affect your entire body in the form of a fever, chills, fatigue, and achiness.
How Does Gout Impact People And Society
Gouts painful attacks can be debilitating. It is common for gout patients to have trouble walking, climbing stairs or completing everyday tasks like caring for family members or doing household chores.
Gout also impacts patients workplaces and communities.
Not treating gout can result in attacks that are more frequent or longer in duration. One study found that employees who suffered more than three gout attacks annually, as compared to those who experienced fewer than three, had increased emergency department and urgent care visits. They also had greater short-term disability costs.
You May Like: Is Onion Good For Gout
Home Remedies For Gout Flares
While you taking medication to fight the pain and inflammation during a gout flare, there are a few other simple gout home remedies you can use to ease the discomfort. Rest is important try to keep the impacted joint higher than your heart. Ice may also be helpful, because it brings down swelling. Research shows that ice is particularly soothing for gout if youre dealing with a different type of arthritis, a heating pad may be a better choice.
Some people also say that eating cherries or drinking tart cherry juice helps during a gout flare. While studies have shown that cherry lovers may be less likely to have frequent gout flares, its not clear whether loading up on this fruit during an attack will make an immediate difference. Cherries may be helpful because theyre rich in antioxidants, and tart cherries may help lower uric acid levels .
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.
Read Also: Gout And Almonds
How To Prevent Gout Attacks
Theres nothing you can do about your genetics, but you can make healthy lifestyle changes that may help reduce the likelihood of developing gout. They include: