How to Manage a Gout Attack
A gout attack is one of the most painful things you can experience. I should know. I’ve had gout for almost 15 years now, and in that time I have learned plenty of hacks when it comes to dealing, treating and preventing gout attacks.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar and Foot Soak
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) helps alkalize the body and relieve acute gout pain. Dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered organic ACV in 8 ounces of water and drink it two to three times a day. You can also soak your feet in a bucket that has 1 cup of apple cider vinegar diluted in 4 cups of hot water for 30 minutes. Another thing you can do is wrap the affected area for 15 minutes with a clean cloth that has been soaked with ACV.
2. Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
Drink lemon juice or take it with baking soda. Lemon is another alkalizing remedy that helps reduce uric acid levels. Use half a lemon and mix it with 8 ounces of water and drink three times a day. You can also add half a teaspoon of baking soda to enhance its effect. Dilute half a teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water and drink it three times a day. Only do this if you don’t have high blood pressure as baking soda is very high in sodium.
3. Eat Cherries
Cherries are known to be good at treating gout, as they contain powerful antioxidants that lower uric acid levels. Try to consume two to three servings of cherries a day. You want to avoid processed cherries, like cherry concentrate, as those contain hidden sugars that can be bad for your gout.
4. Ginger or Turmeric Tea
Drink ginger or turmeric tea, add it to your recipes, eat it raw or apply it topically. Ginger and turmeric contain powerful anti-inflammatories that can provide relief from gout pain. Simply make tea with ginger root or turmeric or use it when you are cooking. You can also apply it topically on the affected area and let it sit for 30 minutes.
5. Epsom Salts
Soak in Epsom salt. Epsom salt is a highly effective topical gout treatment thanks to its alkalizing properties. Soak the affected joint in a bath that has 2 cups of Epsom salt for 30 minutes.
This medicine blocks inflammation and reduces swelling caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals. It’s best taken in low doses, as higher doses can lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
7. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
This anti-inflammatory medication can come in pill, capsule or topical gel form. NSAIDs reduce gout pain by blocking the enzymes and proteins involved in the inflammation. Side effects of NSAIDs include nausea, hives, rashes and heartburn.
Corticosteroids provide immediate relief by reducing the pain and swelling from inflammation. It can be taken in pill form or injected into the muscle of the affected joint. People with diabetes should be careful when taking corticosteroids as they are known to affect blood sugar levels.
Allopurinol inhibits the enzyme responsible for metabolizing purines, which contribute to high blood levels of uric acid. Some patients may not experience the benefits of allopurinol for up to six months. During this time, it is normal to experience gout flare-ups. The doctor may prescribe allopurinol along with colchicine to help you manage the pain until the medicine eventually starts to take effect.
Febuxostat also decreases uric acid levels in the blood. If you suffer from kidney disease, this is a good option since the liver metabolizes it.
This is recommended if you have poor functioning kidneys that can’t excrete uric acid properly. Probenecid helps to increase excretion as well as reduce uric acid levels.
Lesinurad also helps lower uric acid levels and is often accompanied by allopurinol especially, if you are having a hard time reducing uric acid with just allopurinol alone.
This is a last resort medication taken only by 3% of gout sufferers who cannot tolerate other treatment options. It comes as a solution that is injected intravenously every two weeks by a doctor or nurse in a clinic. Similar to allopurinol, the effect of pegloticase may not be felt during the first three months, so other medications such as colchicine or NSAIDs may be prescribed until the treatment starts to take effect.
What to Do If You Don't Have Access to These Options
If you have a gout attack, but you don’t have any of these remedies ready nearby, don’t fret just yet. There are still a few things you can do to manage the pain.
First, make sure the joint is rested until the pain subsides. Avoid touching it as even a light touch can cause excruciating pain. However, if you need to walk, use a cane to minimize the pressure on the affected joint. Then, to lessen inflammation, apply cold compress on the affected joint.
Drinking lots of water, as this helps to flush the excess uric acid. Drinking water also helps prevent future gout attacks. A study found that those who drink more than eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day experience a 48% reduction in gout attacks.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out on foods that trigger gout. The last thing you want is for it to come back right after you just had an attack.
Once you are already able to visit a doctor, follow their prescribed medication. They may run some blood tests and suggest a therapy to lower your uric acid levels. If the pain persists after 48 hours, your doctor may recommend a different treatment.
Talk to Your Doctor
When experiencing a gout attack, it is important to call a physician and make an appointment for immediate gout treatment.
At this appointment, the doctor may recommend a low-purine diet to prevent attacks like this in the future. Purines are the cause of the uric acid accruing in the joints and are found in many different foods.
Ask your doctor if there are any other measures you can take to prevent future attacks.
The Bottom Line
A gout attack can happen to anyone who experiences arthritis and a high-purine diet. If you take steps to cut down on the amount of purines in your body and live a healthy lifestyle, the chance of getting gout decreases slightly.
However, if you are afflicted with gout, follow the tips above to help treat it. If left untreated, gout can cause severe pain and even destroy muscle and bone tissue in and around the affected joint, so try to consult a doctor as soon as you begin to experience a gout attack.