Gout is much more than inflammation and pain in your big toe that comes and goes. This disease can also cause damage to your kidneys, heart, and other organs. Although gout is most often diagnosed in men, it can also affect women. It typically occurs in people over 40, although younger individuals may also experience acute episodes.
This disease is triggered by uric acid, which accumulates in the joints and causes swelling. It’s usually caused by drinking too much alcohol or eating a diet high in purine foods such as red meat, organ meats, and seafood. As a result of these foods, uric acid builds up in the blood and forms crystals deposited in the joints. The crystals are what cause pain and inflammation.
In some cases, gout is triggered by metabolic problems with an enzyme. In others, hemolytic anemia and other blood-related issues can also contribute. Kidney disease can trigger gout when the kidneys are not doing their job of clearing uric acid from the system. Still, and despite so many causes and explanations, gout treatment is almost the same for all of the variants of this disease.
In this article, we’re going to explain the different treatment options patients with gout have to improve in acute attacks, prevent future episodes, and reduce the long-term burden and complications of the disease.
Medical treatments for gout
Treatment for acute gout is usually effective within a few days of initiating therapy. The primary goal of treatment is to reduce joint swelling and the accompanying pain and to prevent further attacks. The pain can be reduced by reducing joint inflammation through the use of anti-inflammatory agents, but some people have recurring gout attacks despite using the best available treatment.
Besides painkillers and anti-inflammatories, patients will also benefit from urate-lowering drugs. These drugs reduce the amount of uric acid in the blood, which is a major cause of gout attacks. If the concentration of uric acid in the blood is kept low, there is less uric acid in the joints, and crystals will not form. Moreover, some people will not have enough with the typical painkillers and need something else. In these cases, corticosteroids are often recommended to deal with gout pain.
But let’s review briefly each of these medical options to treat gout:
NSAIDs in gout can help relieve the acute pain of an attack. Doctors may recommend drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen. The anti-inflammatory properties of these medications work by modulating how your body produces prostaglandins, a type of signaling that prompts inflammation. However, they also interfere with other pain receptors and may contribute to stomach upset, so it is best to use them only during an acute attack.