Treatments for Gout
Hyperuricemia, an elevated level of uric acid in the body, can lead to gout. The uric acid builds up in the bloodstream and exits to find refuge elsewhere in the body. It crystallizes and causes severe joint pain, kidney stones and other medical problems.
Gout is caused by the following factors:
- Hereditary predisposition
- Dietary habits
- Renal underexcretion of uric acid
- Overproduction of uric acid
Genes cannot be altered, but symptoms of hereditary gout can be treated.
People with gout can try avoiding purine-rich foods, because these purines can increase the amount of uric acid in the body. A change in diet won’t completely treat a case of gout, but it can help thwart acute flare-ups. Purine-rich foods include animal products. Avoid alcohol (especially beer), meats, dairy, fish, high fructose corn syrup and foods rich in fat, and instead choose fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and drink plenty of fluids to flush the body of uric acid. Overweight gout patients should lose weight but not via crash dieting.
As for the latter two causes of gout, renal underexcretion of uric acid and overproduction of uric acid, prescription or over-the-counter medications may be the answer.
Every gout patient will be medically treated according to his personal case. The order, method and potency of treatment will depend upon a patient’s symptoms, overall health, gout severity, age and other factors. There are different types of medications available, each of which works in a specific way to combat the disease and its symptoms.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) target inflammation and joint pain. Doctors commonly prescribe NSAIDs as a first choice of treatment because they are generally effective. The dosage of these drugs may be raised to stop an acute attack, followed by a lower dose on a daily basis as a preventative measure to thwart off future gout attacks. Ibuprofin, naproxen, and the potent indomethacin are the variety of NSAIDs available. NSAIDs present abdominal risks such as pain, ulcers and bleeding.
For those patients who are unable to take NSAIDs, colchicine is a second choice drug. Colchicine (colcrys) is very effective in relieving gout pain particularly when treatment has begun shortly after gout symptoms have appeared. Colchicine is commonly prescribed at a low daily dose subsequent to an acute attack to prevent future gout flare-ups. The reason this drug is not as commonly prescribed as NSAIDs is because its efficiency is commonly countered by agonizing side effects, namely vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.
Corticosteroids are used to treat inflammation and pain in the form of pills or injection into the aching joint. Prednisone is a well-known and commonly prescribed steroid. Steroids can be prescribed in place of or in addition to NSAIDs or cochicine. If steroids are to be used alone, they are usually prescribed for those who are unable to take NSAIDs or colchicine. Steroids are generally prescribed at the lowest possible dosage and for the shortest feasible period of time because they present the risks of a compromised immune system, thinning bones and compromised wound healing.
Xanthine and Oxidase
Xanthine and oxidase are medications that fight gout by inhibiting uric acid production. By reducing the amount of uric acid that the body produces, the blood’s uric acid level may decrease, thereby reducing the risk of gout attacks. Side effects of these drugs include nausea, rash and reduced liver function.
Probenecid is a medication that improves the kidneys’ ability to filter uric acid from the body. In doing this, the drug lowers the uric acid level in the bloodstream. Side effects of probenecid include increased level of uric acid in urine, rash, abdominal pain and kidney stones.
If you have gout, talk to your doctor to plan the most appropriate course of treatment for your specific case. The pain, crushing feeling and swelling that you may be experiencing can be treated with medications. By dieting, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking your medications, you could live your life without pain and gout attacks. Gout clinical trials help patients who have not seen positive results from traditional medicine.