Acute Gouty Arthritis
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Acute gouty arthritis, or gout, is a disease that causes severe joint pain, redness, swelling, and stiffness. Acute gout pain starts suddenly, gets worse quickly, and stops on its own. Acute gout can become chronic and cause permanent damage to the joints.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicine may decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your primary healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.
- Colchicine: This medicine decreases joint pain and swelling. It may also be given to prevent new gout attacks. Colchicine is usually given to patients who cannot take NSAIDs or when NSAIDs are not working. Stop taking this medicine if you develop nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Steroids: Steroids reduce inflammation and can help your joint stiffness and pain during gout attacks.
- Uric acid medicine: Once your gout attack is under control, you may need medicine to reduce uric acid production, or to pass more uric acid when you urinate.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Manage gout attacks:
- Rest: You may need to rest your joint so that it can heal.
- Ice: Ice decreases pain and swelling. Put crushed ice in a plastic bag and cover it with a towel. Put the ice on your painful joint for 15 to 20 minutes every hour.
- Elevate: Raise your joint above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease pain and swelling. Prop your painful joint on pillows to keep it above your heart comfortably.
Prevent gout attacks:
- Do not eat high-purine foods: These foods include meats, seafood, asparagus, spinach, cauliflower, and some types of beans. Eat more low-fat milk products, such as yogurt. Milk products may decrease your risk of gout attacks. Vitamin C and coffee may also help. Ask your primary healthcare provider about the best food plan for you.
- Drink water as directed: Water helps remove uric acid from your body. Ask your primary healthcare provider how much water to drink each day.
- Mange your weight: Weight loss may decrease the amount of uric acid in your body. Exercise may help you lose weight. Talk to your primary healthcare provider about the best exercises for you.
- Control your blood sugar level: If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar level in a normal range. This can help prevent gout attacks.
- Limit or avoid alcohol: Alcohol can trigger a gout attack. Ask your primary healthcare provider if alcohol is safe for you.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have new symptoms, such as a rash, after you start gout treatment.
- Your joint pain and swelling do not go away, even after treatment.
- You are not urinating as much or as often as you usually do.
- You have trouble taking your gout medicines.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have severe pain in one or more of your joints that you cannot tolerate.
- You have a fever or redness that spreads beyond the joint area.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.