About Gout

Many people still believe gout is caused by ‘living the high life’.

In reality, it can be triggered by many different things including medication, being overweight, alcohol, dehydration or an illness. The tendency to get gout can run in families.

What is gout?

In gout, small crystals form in and around a joint, and cause inflammation. The build up of these crystals can cause lumps under the skin called ‘tophi’. During an attack of gout joints often become hot, swollen and very painful.

Untreated gout can lead to unnecessary pain, more frequent attacks, permanent damage to joints and sometimes even kidney damage.

Treating gout

Generally gout is treated with medicines and lifestyle changes. However, decisions about treatment can be tricky, particularly as we get older.

An attack of gout is usually treated with a short course of medicine to relieve the pain and swelling. For the best result, treatment should be started as soon as possible after the pain starts.

To avoid future problems from gout, you may need to take a long-term preventive medicine even when you don’t have any symptoms. The dose will need to be adjusted for your individual needs.

As we get older, changes in the way our body handles medicines and the presence of other illnesses increase the likelihood of having side effects from gout medicine.

Getting the best from your gout medicines

Medicines for gout are effective when taken correctly.

For best results:

  • Take medicine for gout as prescribed by your doctor.
  • If you have been prescribed more than one gout medicine, know:
    • which medicine is for a gout attack
    • which medicine is for the prevention of future attacks
  • Have your doctor check your gout medicines regularly.
  • Talk to your doctor before starting, changing or stopping any medicines. Some medicines including natural and herbal products may increase your chance of getting gout.
  • Be aware of the possible side effects of your medicines. If you are unsure, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

What else can you do?

Changes to lifestyle can help to reduce the likelihood of further attacks of gout:

  • Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, especially beer and spirits. Avoid drinking a lot of alcohol at one time.
  • Ensure you have a healthy diet.

    Certain foods may trigger an attack of gout in some people. Talk to your doctor about the best diet for you. Your doctor may recommend you see a dietician.

Talk to your doctor.

Your doctor will be happy to discuss management of your gout with you.

For more information:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) leaflet for your gout medicine.

Return to top