Understanding gout medication
Gout is a painful swelling of a joint. It is a type of arthritis. It is caused by a build-up of uric acid, a waste material that is usually excreted in your urine. If you can’t flush enough uric acid out, it builds up in your blood. It can sometimes get in your joints, causing inflammation and pain, which is gout.
If gout is not treated, it can cause permanent damage to your joints. The treatment of gout involves avoiding alcohol, keeping to a healthy weight and taking medications. Some gout medications help reduce pain and swelling, and others can prevent further attacks.
Types of gout medication
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are a type of medication that can reduce pain and swelling in gout. They have no effect on the amount of uric acid in the body. Examples are naproxen and ibuprofen.
Corticosteroids can be taken by mouth or injected into the affected joint to reduce pain and swelling.
Colchicine can be used as an alternative to NSAIDs or corticosteroids. It reduces pain and swelling. However, it must be taken within the first 12 hours of an attack and may cause diarrhoea.
Allopurinol is used to prevent future attacks of gout by reducing the production of uric acid in the body. It can take several months before you notice its effect. It can make you drowsy.
Important information about gout medication
If you are taking medication to lower uric acid, you need to take it every day, whether you are having an attack or not.
Treatment is important to reduce gout attacks and avoid permanent joint damage. However, as all medicines have side effects, discuss medication choices with your doctor by asking:
- what are the benefits of gout medication?
- what are the risks of this medication?
- what are the side effects?
Always let your doctor or pharmacist know what medicines you are taking to avoid interactions. It is also a good idea to discuss if you want to stop or change the dose of your medications.
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Last reviewed: March 2020