Gout: Know the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Gout: Know the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Learn about gout's causes and symptoms, how to manage this painful joint condition effectively, and typical treatments.

1 Big Thing: Gout is a painful form of arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in the blood, causing inflammation and intense pain in the joints.

Why It Matters: This condition can severely affect your mobility and quality of life, but with proper management, its impact can be significantly reduced.

Between the Lines: Understanding the triggers and effective treatment options can help sufferers prevent future attacks and lead a more comfortable life.

Go Deeper

What is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness, and tenderness in joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe. It occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack.

Causes and Risk Factors

Gout is caused by hyperuricemia, where there is too much uric acid in the body. The body makes uric acid when it breaks down purines, which are found in your body and the foods you eat. While your kidneys normally filter out uric acid, too much of it can build up and form sharp, needle-like urate crystals in a joint or surrounding tissue that cause pain, inflammation, and swelling.

Risk factors include:

  • Diet, especially one high in meat, seafood, and beverages sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose).
  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages, especially beer.
  • Being overweight.
  • Medical conditions, including untreated high blood pressure and chronic conditions such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart and kidney diseases.

Symptoms of Gout

  • Intense joint pain. Gout usually affects the large joint of your big toe, but it can occur in any joint.
  • Lingering discomfort. After the severe pain subsides, joint discomfort can last from a few days to a few weeks.
  • Inflammation and redness. The affected joint or joints become swollen, tender, warm, and red.
  • Limited range of motion. As gout progresses, you may not be able to move your joints normally.

Treatment and Management

The treatment of gout includes medications to reduce the pain and inflammation of attacks, as well as medications to lower the level of uric acid in the blood to prevent future attacks. Lifestyle changes can also help, including:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol.
  • Getting protein from low-fat dairy products.
  • Limiting intake of meat, fish, and poultry.
  • Maintaining a desirable body weight.

Typical Medications

For Acute Gout Attacks

  1. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) - Commonly prescribed NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and indomethacin. These medications reduce inflammation and pain during gout attacks.
  2. Colchicine - This medication reduces gout pain. It's most effective when taken within the first few hours of an attack. Due to potential side effects, it is usually only prescribed for short-term use during acute attacks.
  3. Corticosteroids - Prednisone and other corticosteroids can control gout inflammation and pain. These are usually administered orally, but can also be injected directly into the affected joint.

To Prevent Future Attacks

  1. Allopurinol - This is a commonly prescribed medication that lowers blood uric acid levels by limiting the amount of uric acid the body produces. It is used for long-term management and is effective in preventing gout attacks when taken regularly.
  2. Febuxostat - Similar to allopurinol, febuxostat decreases the amount of uric acid produced by the body. It is used for patients who cannot tolerate allopurinol.
  3. Probenecid - This medication helps the kidneys remove uric acid from the body, thus reducing the levels of uric acid and preventing gout attacks.
  4. Lesinurad - Often used in combination with a xanthine oxidase inhibitor like allopurinol or febuxostat, lesinurad helps increase the excretion of uric acid in the urine.

It's important to note that while these medications can help manage and prevent gout attacks, they should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as they can have side effects and interactions with other medications. Regular monitoring of uric acid levels and adjusting treatment based on these levels is crucial for effective management of gout.


To prevent gout, it is crucial to maintain good eating habits, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, and manage your weight. Regular exercise and eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in sugar and purines can help manage and possibly prevent gout.

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Please note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Gout: Know the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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