Gout is an inflammatory type of arthritis caused by excess uric acid buildup in the bloodstream. Needle-like urate crystals then deposit in joints, leading to painful gout flares. While antigout medication can help lower uric acid levels, optimal gout management requires a combination of pharmaceutical and lifestyle approaches.
Gout develops when the body cannot effectively eliminate uric acid, a normal waste product from purine breakdown. Levels then spike in the blood, causing urate crystal formation in joints and soft tissues. This elicits a fierce inflammatory reaction. Genetics, diet, obesity, and certain medications like diuretics can all contribute to hyperuricemia and gout risk.
Gout most often first strikes the big toe, though ankles, heels, knees, wrists and fingers can also be affected. Flares bring redness, swelling, heat, and excruciating pain in the joint. Attacks can last a few days to weeks and may recur periodically if uric acid remains high.
Medications for Gout Treatment
Drug options for tackling gout include:
- Xanthine oxidase inhibitors – allopurinol, febuxostat (Uloric) – reduce uric acid production
- Uricosurics – probenecid, lesinurad (Zurampic)- enhance uric acid excretion
- Corticosteroids – prednisone, methylprednisolone (Medrol) – relieve inflammation
- Colchicine – decreases white blood cell response to urate crystals
- NSAIDs – naproxen, indomethacin – manage pain and swelling
These are used to treat acute gout flares and/or lower baseline uric acid levels. They must be taken regularly to prevent recurring gout attacks.
Lifestyle Changes for Gout Patients
Diet and lifestyle habits significantly impact gout risk and severity. Key self-care approaches include:
- Hydration – drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids helps eliminate uric acid
- Dietary adjustments – limiting purine-rich foods like red meat, seafood, alcohol
- Weight loss – reducing excess weight decreases uric acid production
- Exercise – improves circulation and uric acid excretion
- Stress reduction – chronic stress increases gout risk
- Smoking cessation – quitting smoking lowers gout incidence
Making sustainable lifestyle changes empowers patients to better control gout.
Using medication and lifestyle adjustments together provides a potent one-two punch for minimizing gout attacks, reducing disability, and improving quality of life. With a comprehensive management approach, most patients can successfully tame their gout and get off the painful inflammation rollercoaster.