Several medications treat gout. They can be divided into two groups, those that work short-term and treat flare-ups and those that work long-term to prevent flare-ups.
Gout is a condition in which there is a build-up of uric acid in the body. It is a common form of inflammatory arthritis that causes painful flare-ups, usually in the joints of the toes.
This article explores what medications are available to treat gout.
If you experience a gout flare, your health care provider or a K doctor can recommend an over-the-counter or prescription medication to help manage your symptoms.
Short-Term Gout Medications
Gout flares can start suddenly and last for days or weeks.
Before putting you on long-term medications, your medical provider will probably start you on medications to treat your flair-up and relieve your pain.
The first line of treatment is to reduce inflammation and pain.
These medications can be used together and in combination with long-term medications as well.
Short-term medications include:
The most common type of nonprescription medications for gout are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Indomethacin (Indocin and Tivorbex)
NSAIDs bring you relief by reducing pain and inflammation associated with a gout attack.
However, they should not be taken long-term, as NSAIDs can cause stomach pain and ulcers.
Colchicine (Colcrys, Gloperba, and Mitigare) is a prescription anti-inflammatory drug. It changes the way the body responds to uric acid helping to decrease pain and inflammation.
There are potential drug interactions with this medication, so make sure your medical provider knows all your current medications.
This medication works best when you take it at the first sign of an attack. Waiting longer may decrease how well it works.
Sometimes a second dose is needed one hour after the first dose if you are still experiencing gout pain.
Avoid grapefruits while taking this medication.
Common side effects are stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea.
Corticosteroids are natural hormones made by the adrenal glands that reduce inflammation in the body.
When inflammation decreases, pain and swelling are relieved.
Prednisone is the most commonly prescribed corticosteroid.
Take precautions when taking corticosteroids, as they can impact your immune system. Take them only as directed by your medical provider.
Long-Term Gout Medications
Long-term gout medications reduce the uric acid level in your body to prevent further attacks.
These medications are one prescribed after confirmation of high levels of uric acid.
Avoid alcoholic drinks while taking all gout medications as it lessens the effect of the medications.
Long-term medications include:
Alopurinol (Lopurin and Zyloprim)
Uric acid is a waste product produced by the body. When your body makes too much uric acid, you get gout.
Alopurinol reduces how much uric acid the body makes.
This medication can also reduce your immune system’s strength and make you bleed easier. While taking this medicine your blood levels need to be checked regularly.
When you start taking allopurinol you may notice an initial increase in the number of gout attacks you experience. This reduces over time.
Febuxostat also reduces the amount of uric acid the body produces. Your medical professional will prescribe this medication if allopurinol does not work for you, or if it stops working over time.
Febuxostat does have a warning of increased risk for heart problems. Talk to your medical provider about any heart, liver, or kidney problems you’ve had in the past before taking this medication.
Your medical provider may check your blood regularly to check that the medication is working properly and to check your liver function.
Common side effects include nausea, rash, and abnormal liver function tests.
Probenecid (Benemid and Probalan)
Probenecid helps prevent gout attacks by removing extra uric acid from the body.
This medication does not prevent attacks right away, but over time gout attacks will lessen in frequency.
When you first start taking this medication, the amount of uric acid increases in the kidneys as it works to remove the uric acid from your body.
Uric acid in the kidneys can cause a kidney stone. For this reason your medical provider may discuss drinking at least 10 to 12 glasses of water each day.
Common side effects include headache, joint pain, and nausea.
Lesinurad helps the kidneys remove excess uric acid from the body. It is used in combination with either alopurinol or febuxostat. It should not be taken alone for gout treatment.
People who have a medical history of kidney problems should avoid taking this medication.
It is important to drink at least two liters of liquids every day while taking this medicine to keep your kidneys healthy.
Your medical provider may frequently check your kidney function while you take this medication.
Common side effects include heartburn, headache, and abnormal kidney function.
Depending on the cause, frequency, and severity of your gout attacks, as well as your other medical conditions, your health care provider will determine the appropriate treatment for you.
Ways to Prevent Gout
If you’re at risk for gout, your doctor can help you manage symptoms when they happen.
But you can also prevent gout attacks on your own with some simple lifestyle changes, such as:
- Eating a healthy diet: Do your best to eat a nutritious diet, which will help you maintain a health weight and as a result, lower your risk of gout. Eating fewer purine-rich foods can also help. Try your best to limit shellfish, red and organ meats, beer, and alcoholic beverages.
- Exercising regularly: Routine exercise can improve your overall health, which lowers your risk of gout. Exercise may also help you maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can lead to more uric acid in the body, so maintaining a healthy weight is an important way to mitigate your risk factors.
- Staying hydrated: Hydration is another core component of health. Plus, your kidneys need water to excrete excess uric acid. Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day so you don’t get dehydrated, and watch your consumption of dehydrating drinks, such as coffee and alcohol.
If you’re taking measures to improve your health and prevent gout flares but your joints are still bothering you, talk to a doctor.
Your provider may want to rule out other conditions or help recommend a better, more effective plan for preventing and treating your pain.
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