A doctor holding a sample vial that says "uric acid test"

Managing Gout Flare-ups

How to Get Rid of Gout

Are you experiencing joint pain, especially in your toes or feet? Is there pain when you walk after sitting or when you wake up? If these are some things that you are experiencing, you might have a condition known as gout.

In the United States, there are around 9 million people who are affected by gout. It also affects men more than women. So, how do you get rid of gout?

In this article, we’ll explain what gout is, what causes it and list the symptoms and treatment options. It’s best to talk to a physician to establish a treatment plan as it is a condition that can be chronic and recurrent.

What is Gout?

Gout is a kind of joint inflammation that occurs due to the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Gout usually affects the joints in the big toe but can also affect the ankle, knee, wrist, fingers, and elbow. It causes sudden attacks of pain, swelling, and redness in the joints. It is related to a condition medically known as hyperuricemia, which describes an increase in uric acid levels in the body.

The uric acid in the body increases due to overproduction or underexcretion of the substance. The uric acid in the body is typically expelled through the kidneys, and any problems within these pathways can lead to gout. Gout can be a chronic and recurrent disease because symptoms of gout can worsen and cause flare-ups.

Gout can occur primarily or secondary to another cause. Primary gout is due to family history. There is a higher chance of having gouty arthritis if several of your family members also have it. Secondary gout can be due to other conditions, which can increase uric acid levels in the body.

Examples of these are blood disorders or cancers such as lymphoma. Other people found to be at risk for gout include males and post-menopausal women. Some genetic disorders also have an increased risk for gout. Diet can also influence the occurrence of gout, especially flare-ups.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Gout has different phases. The first phase is asymptomatic hyperuricemia, where no symptoms will be noted, but there is a significantly elevated level of uric acid in the blood. As the high level of uric acid persists, an acute gouty attack can occur. During this phase, there is a deposition of uric acid crystals in the joint fluid, leading to the symptoms. This usually lasts 7‒10 days and is characterized by swelling and redness of the affected joint.

There is pain, and as it worsens, people with the condition can find it hard to move or walk. Acute gout attacks can be separated by periods of absence of symptoms, called intercritical periods, where the person with the condition appears well.

In patients who have untreated gout, another phase is called chronic tophaceous gout. This is long-term inflammation of the joints where there can be joint pain even while resting. This is also a phase when nodules of uric acid crystals, which are now termed tophi, are deposited in different areas of the body. As levels of uric acid increase and the condition worsens, tophi can deposit in bony tissues, ligaments, and in different organs.

Complications of gout include kidney stones or nephrolithiasis due to uric acid deposits. This can lead to kidney problems, leading to kidney failure if left untreated.

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How Do You Get Rid of Gout? How Do You Seek Treatment?

Gout does not have a single specific cure, and it is a disease that can recur, making treatment difficult. However, your doctor can help you manage the symptoms and avoid the occurrence of flare-ups. When treating gout, it’s best to consult a physician to create a treatment plan that will keep gout symptoms at bay for a long time.

Treatment of gout can be pharmacological or non-pharmacological, and the best management is a mixture of both.

Non-pharmacological treatment includes education, dietary changes, and resting of the joint for adequate healing. An important part of managing gout is education and counseling for people with the condition, as well as regular follow-ups and lab tests. This is important to prevent flare-ups and ensure that patients can have long periods with no symptoms.

This is also when patients can be advised to exercise and lose weight, which can help in reducing the occurrence or recurrence of gout. Because diet can influence the uric acid levels in the body, changing your diet can reduce uric acid levels by 18%. Education on what kind of foods are predisposed to gout is also part of non-pharmacologic treatment.

In general, protein-rich foods such as meat, seafood, and yeast should be avoided. It is advisable to avoid alcohol and sugary beverages as well.

Pharmacological treatment options are wide and varied. There are many medications used to treat gout, each with its own pros and cons. Factors affecting the treatment of gout include the stage, laboratory findings, occurrence of flare-ups, and other risk factors, which can be different for each patient.

The goals for providing medications are to relieve the pain and inflammation of the joint in a shorter time. Anti-inflammatory medications are usually a mainstay in the treatment of gout, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, steroids, and colchicine. There is usually a notable improvement after 24 hours of intake of these medications.

For severe or recurrent cases of gout, a group of drugs called xanthine oxidase inhibitors are given. The goal is to keep a uric acid value of less than 6mg/dL. The type of medication to be given for each patient is dependent on many factors, so consult your doctor first.

Final Thoughts

Gout is not a life-threatening illness, but it can be a burden and cause discomfort to those who have it. If not treated, it can have many complications that can affect the overall health of a person.

It is important to see your doctor if you think you have gout or are experiencing any of these symptoms so that a proper treatment plan can be provided for you.

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