Treating Gout Attacks

Gout is a disease that affects the joints. It is caused by excess uric acid in your blood stream that may lead to crystals forming in your joints. Left untreated, it can lead to painful foot and joint deformities and even kidney problems. But, by treating gout early, you can relieve pain and help prevent future problems. Gout can usually be treated with medication and proper diet. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.

Gout attacks are painful and often happen more than once. Taking medications may reduce pain and prevent attacks in the future. There are also some things you can do at home to relieve symptoms.

Man holding glass of water, preparing to take pill.

Medications for gout

Your healthcare provider may prescribe a daily medication to reduce levels of uric acid. Reducing your uric acid levels may help prevent gout attacks. Allopurinol is one commonly used medication taken daily to reduce uric acid levels. Other medications can help relieve pain and swelling during an acute attack. Medicines such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines), steroids, and colchicine may be prescribed for intermittent use to relieve an acute gout attack. Be sure to take your medication as directed.

What you can do

Below are some things you can do at home to relieve gout symptoms. Your healthcare provider may have other tips.

  • Rest the painful joint as much as you can.

  • Raise the painful joint so it is at a level higher than your heart.

  • Use ice for 10 minutes every 1–2 hours as possible.

How can I prevent gout?

With a little effort, you may be able to prevent gout attacks in the future. Here are some things you can do:

  • Avoid foods high in purines

    • Certain meats (red meat, processed meat, turkey)

    • Organ meats (kidney, liver, sweetbread)

    • Shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp, scallop, mussel)

    • Certain fish (anchovy, sardine, herring, mackerel)

  • Take any medications prescribed by your healthcare provider.

  • Lose weight if you need to.

  • Reduce high fructose corn syrup in meals and drinks.

  • Reduce or eliminate consumption of alcohol, particularly beer, but also red wine and spirits.

  • Control blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.

  • Drink plenty of water to help flush uric acid from your body.