Treating Gout Attacks

Gout is a painful form of arthritis that affects the joints. It's caused by excess uric acid in your blood that may lead to crystals forming in your joints. Left untreated, it can lead to painful foot and joint deformities and even kidney problems. But by treating gout early, you can ease pain and help prevent future problems. Gout can usually be treated with medicine and proper diet. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.

Gout attacks are painful and often happen more than once. Taking medicines may reduce pain and prevent attacks in the future. There are also some things you can do at home to ease symptoms.

Medicines for gout

Your healthcare provider may prescribe a daily medicine to reduce levels of uric acid. Reducing your uric acid levels may help prevent gout attacks. Allopurinol is a commonly used medicine taken daily to reduce uric acid levels. Other daily medicines used to reduce uric acid levels include febuxostat, and probencid.  Medicines such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), steroids, and colchicine may be prescribed for intermittent use to ease an acute gout attack. Be sure to take your medicine as directed.

What you can do

Below are some things you can do at home to ease gout symptoms. Your healthcare provider may have other tips.

  • Rest the painful joint as much as you can.

  • Raise the painful joint so it's at a level higher than your heart.

  • Use ice for 10 minutes every 1 to 2 hours as possible. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a thin towel or cloth. Don’t put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

    Man lying on couch with legs elevated on pillows.
    Raising the joint above the level of your heart can help reduce gout symptoms.

How can I prevent gout?

With a little effort, you may be able to prevent gout attacks in the future. Here are some things you can do:

  • Don't eat foods high in purines, such as:

    • Certain meats (red meat, processed meat, turkey)

    • Organ meats (kidney, liver, sweetbread)

    • Shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp, scallop, mussel)

    • Certain fish (anchovy, sardine, herring, mackerel, trout, haddock, tuna)

  • Take any medicines prescribed by your healthcare provider.

  • Lose weight if your provider suggests it may help you.

  • Reduce high fructose corn syrup in meals and drinks.

  • Reduce or cut out alcohol (particularly beer, but also red wine and spirits).

  • Control blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.

  • Drink plenty of water to help flush uric acid from your body.

Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2021
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