Gout is a disease caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. With too much uric acid in the blood, some must be expelled and seek habitat in other areas of the body. The superfluous uric acid crystallizes and hardens and results in a variety of symptoms such as kidney stones and acute joint pain. In the vast majority of cases, gout can be successfully treated and flare-ups can reach a gradual end.
Before learning how to treat individual cases of gout, it is important to understand the various types of gout and their respective symptomatic presentations. Gout can be caused by the body’s overproduction of uric acid, inadequate excretion of uric acid by the kidneys or hereditary predisposition. Additionally, gout can be the result of eating many purine-rich foods.
In treating gout caused by the body’s malfunctioning, the organ targeted is that which is failing to produce or excrete the proper amount of uric acid. Prescription or over-the-counter drugs can treat gout caused by overproduction of uric acid or under excretion of uric acid by the kidneys. Hereditary gout cannot be cured, but its symptoms are treatable.
Changing dietary habits and taking the proper medications can treat gout that is caused by a purine-rich food diet. Avoiding purine-rich foods, losing weight if necessary and maintaining a healthy diet alone does not cure any type of gout, but it can help to avoid acute flare-up episodes. A gout-friendly diet includes limited alcohol (especially beer), meat, dairy, fish, high fructose corn syrup and fatty food consumption and instead eating fresh fruits, vegetables and drinking ample fluids to flush the body of uric acid.
In general, there are two types of medications that are used to treat gout. First and foremost, acute gout attacks with severe joint pain must be treated, for which there are NSAIDs, colchicine and corticosteroids. The second type of medication is used to lower the level of uric acid to limit flare-ups or avoid them altogether. People diagnosed with chronic gout frequently undergo lifetime medicinal treatment to lower uric acid levels. The following are the types of medications used to treat gout:
Treatments for acute gout attacks:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Target inflammation and joint pain
- First choice drug
- Types of NSAIDs: ibuprofin, naproxen, and indomethacin
- Possible side effects include abdominal pain, ulcers and bleeding
- Second choice medication
- Especially successful in reducing pain when given shortly after presentation of symptoms
- Common side effects: nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Treat inflammation and pain
- Pill-form or injection into the aching joint
- Prednisone is a well-known and commonly prescribed steroid
- Possible side effects: weakened immune system, thinning bones and poor wound healing
- Treatment of increased synthesis and decreased filtration and clearance of uric acid:
Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitors
- Inhibit uric acid production
- Types of xanthine oxidase inhibitors: allopurinol and febuxostat
- Possible side effects: nausea, reduced liver function and rash
- Improves renal filtering of uric acid from the bloodstream
- Possible side effects: increased levels of uric acid in urine, rash, kidney stones and abdominal pain
There is a controversial theory that has existed for about twenty-five years that reducing uric acid can lower blood pressure. It is believed by some doctors that lowering the amount of uric acid in the body can play a part in treating hypertension. Therefore, treating gout may be an approach to hypertension care. However, reducing blood pressure has no impact on reducing uric acid levels or treating hyperuricemia.