Gout treatment is focused on mitigating pain caused by attacks, and lowering your risk of future flare-ups by lowering uric acid levels in the body. Common forms of medication prescribed by doctors to treat gout include:
- NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are available over-the-counter or at prescription strength. These drugs will help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Colchicine: Colchicine is a prescription medication that can help relieve inflammation caused by gout and reduce uric acid levels in the body. Colchicine is not a pain reliever and will not cure gout. It can, however, help prevent and treat attacks of gout.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids (usually administered orally or through injection) can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation caused by gout.
- Uric acid reducers: Medication such as allopurinol (sold as Zyloprim) reduces uric acid levels in the blood. Allopurinol is commonly prescribed as a long-term preventative measure against gout and kidney stones.
In addition to prescription medication (and while you’re waiting for your appointment), there are a few steps you can take to relieve pain and reduce the likelihood of further gout flares. These include:
- Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen (generic for Aleve) and ibuprofen may help to reduce inflammation and pain. Stay away from aspirin, though, as it can alter uric acid levels in the blood and make the symptoms of gout worse.
- Elevate and ice. Another way to reduce swelling and pain is to elevate the affected toe higher than the heart and apply a bag of ice to it for 20-30 minutes at a time. Do this several times throughout the day.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help prevent gout attacks and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. Stay away from alcohol and sugary drinks, as these can antagonize flares and make complications more probable.
- Watch what you eat. Try to stay away from purines. Purines are naturally occurring chemicals that are broken down into uric acid. Eating foods rich in purines can raise uric acid levels in the blood and increase the risk of gout. Some purine-rich foods include red meat, organ meats, and some seafood (particularly sardines, anchovies, mussels, scallops, tuna, and trout).
- Maintain a healthy weight. Risk factors for gout include obesity, excessive weight gain, moderate to heavy alcohol intake, and diabetes. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help you avoid gout flares and other health problems. Biking, swimming, and walking are all low-impact activities that are easy on the joints.