When a gout attack hits, it’s usually swift, severe, and obvious something’s wrong. Often starting at night, the joint of your big toe is typically the source of sharp and intense pain. 

Fortunately, gout often responds well to medication, but this is only useful when you have some on hand. Otherwise, you’ll need to cope with the pain of the attack until you can see a doctor and get a prescription. Even then, it may take six to 24 hours for full relief from the symptoms of your attack. 

It’s possible to modify your lifestyle to reduce the risk of future attacks. Contact podiatrist Errol Gindi, DPM for an examination and consultation to learn more about your condition. As sharp as it is, it’s possible to get past the pain of gout. 

What happens during a gout attack? 

As a condition that causes pain and inflammation of joints, gout is classed in the arthritis family, so it’s not surprising it’s sometimes called gouty arthritis. Uric acid is a natural substance found in your body formed by the breakdown of purines. 

Common foods like red meat and seafood contribute purines through your diet, while other foods and drinks promote high levels of uric acid. Beer, other alcoholic beverages, and drinks sweetened with fructose often boost uric acid levels in your body. 

High levels of uric acid in your blood causes urate crystals to form in your body, usually starting with one big toe joint. These crystals cause inflammation and sharp pain that can make the joint so sensitive the weight of a sheet may be too much to bear. The joint is also usually hot to touch and red. 

Getting through an attack: 5 tips for gout

When an attack hits, relief from the pain is your top priority. Try these tips: 

  • Take a pill: If you’ve had attacks before and you’ve been prescribed a drug for gout attacks, take these as recommended when the attack starts. If you haven’t, try over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as naproxen or ibuprofen. 
  • Hydrate: Take your pills with plenty of water, and keep the hydration coming. Extra fluid dilutes the amount of uric acid in your blood and assists the flushing of crystals at the gout site. Avoid beverages sweetened with sugar, though. These could add to your uric acid issues.
  • Ice packs: Cooling the swollen joint reduces inflammation and eases pain if you’re careful with your ice pack. Wrap it in a washcloth and limit icing to 20 minutes every hour. 
  • Elevate: If gout hits your big toe, lie down and elevate that foot above the level of your heart to encourage drainage. Combined with ice packs, this can reduce both pain and swelling. 
  • Rest: This might be an easy decision since walking on a gouty toe can be excruciating. Pain can take a lot out of you too, so take it easy through the worst of the gout pain.
  • The best gout attack you’ll experience is the one you don’t have. It’s possible to make changes that banish gout attacks from your life. Contact Errol Gindi, DPM by phone or online through the appointment request link on this page. Dr. Gindi and his team can help you make the changes you need to keep gout under control. Book your consultation today. 

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