Gout - Treatment Overview
The goals of treatment for
gout are rapid pain relief and prevention of future
gout attacks and long-term complications, such as joint destruction and kidney
damage. Treatment includes medicines and steps you can take at home to prevent
Gout is treated with medicines to relieve symptoms and
measures to eliminate causes. Specific treatment depends on whether you are
having an acute attack or are trying to prevent future attacks.
To reduce the pain, swelling, redness, and warmth of the affected joint(s) in an acute gout attack:
- Rest the affected joint(s).
Take one or more of the following medicines at the first sign of a gout attack,
as prescribed by your doctor.
To prevent recurrent attacks:
- Take a medicine that reduces uric acid levels
in the blood, which reduces the risk of future attacks.
- Take steps to reduce the risk of future
- Control your weight. Being overweight increases your risk for gout. If you are overweight, a diet that is low in fat may
help you lose weight. But very low-calorie diets increase the amount of uric
acid produced by the body and may bring on a gout attack. For more information,
see the topic
- Limit alcohol,
especially beer. Alcohol can reduce the release of uric acid by the kidneys
into your urine, causing an increase of uric acid in your body. Beer, which is
purines, appears to be worse than some other beverages
that contain alcohol.
- Limit meat and
seafood. Diets high in meat and seafood (high-purine foods) can raise uric acid
- Talk to your doctor about the medicines you take. Certain
medicines that are given for other conditions reduce the amount of uric acid
eliminated by the kidneys. These include pills that reduce the amount of salt
and water in the body (diuretics, or "water pills") and
niacin. Regular use of low-dose aspirin may raise the uric acid level. Low-dose aspirin may be important for the prevention of stroke or heart attack,
so your doctor may want you to continue to take it.
- Follow a moderate exercise program.
If your doctor prescribes medicine to lower your uric
acid levels, be sure to take it as directed. Most people continue to take this
medicine for the rest of their lives.
If the blood uric acid is
high but a person has never had an attack of gout, treatment is rarely needed.
But people with extremely elevated levels may need regular testing for signs of
kidney damage. And they may need long-term treatment to lower their uric acid
levels. Your blood uric acid level may be watched by your doctor until it is
lowered to normal levels.