Gout is a disease that does not discriminate based on race.


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Patient Information About Gout: FAQ’s

Why did I get gout?

It’s impossible to generalize. Genetics, obesity, kidney disease and overindulgence can all play a role. It is not clear why urate crystals more readily form in some people than others.

Once I’m diagnosed, what should I ask my doctor about gout?

Ask your doctor the following questions to help you determine how to help control your symptoms and properly adhere to the prescribed treatment:

  • Are there any lifestyle changes I can make that might reduce my risk of developing gout or having a gout attack?
  • Will any of the current medications that I am taking increase my risk for hyperuricemia?
  • How does medication work to help my gout?
  • Could gout medication interact with other medications I am taking?
  • What should I do if my symptoms are not relieved while taking gout medication?

What can I do to help prevent and minimize future attacks?

  • Take your medication as prescribed.
  • Seek treatment for gout when the symptoms first occur.
  • Follow up with your physician until you find a treatment that is right for you.
  • Tell your physician about all the medications and over-the-counter products you take, including herbs and vitamins. Some medications, such as some transplant medicines, blood pressure medications and low-dose aspirin may elevate your uric acid level.
  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Know your uric acid level – it should be at or below 6.0 mg/dL.

What are some of the potential consequences of not seeking treatment or not following my treatment plan?

  • If left untreated, gout can lead to permanent joint damage and destruction of tissue, such as kidney stones or tophi.
  • Deforming and disabling arthritis ─ While tophi (deposits of urate crystals that settle under the skin in the joint space and tendons) are relatively painless, acute inflammation can occur around them. Eventually, extensive destruction of joints and large tophi beneath the skin may lead to deformities, particularly of the hands and feet.
  • Kidney stones ─ Kidney stones are extremely painful and are often composed of uric acid.  They may block the urinary tract and, if left untreated, can result in infection and damage to the kidneys. Approximately one out of five gout sufferers, generally those who poorly control the disease, will develop kidney stones.

Are there any experimental treatments I can try?

  • There are a number of clinical trials currently seeking patients. Click here for more information.

Are the risk factors for women different than men?

  • Sufficient levels of estrogen may protect women through much of their adult life. Women tend to develop gout after menopause. They may have other medical conditions such as high blood pressure causing kidney problems and may be taking medication that affects their body’s ability to keep uric acid low. Women also get joint damage, sometimes including large crystal deposits made up of uric acid called tophi.

Is the emergency room the right place to seek treatment?

  • The appropriate use of the emergency room is when an acute attack cannot be managed by medications on hand. At the emergency room, doctors can diagnosis gout and rule out other potential health problems. The emergency room can also administer pain relief. On an ongoing basis, gout patients should be under a physician’s care and follow a treatment plan that focuses on treating gout successfully with minimal complications.

How often should I have my uric acid level checked?

  • A simple blood test for uric acid is recommended every six months to help your physician track progress toward your treatment goal. Your uric acid should always be below 6.0 mg/dL.

I’ve heard that drinking cherry juice can help prevent gout flares. Is that true?

  • Cherry juice plays no known role in acute gout care. Ascorbic acid is a component found in many fruits, including cherries. While ascorbic acid is known to lower uric acid levels, its effect is so slight that in the majority of patients, it will not be sufficient to lower uric acid to the target level of 6.0 mg/dL or below. For more information about ways to help prevent gout flares, talk to your doctor and visit the ‘Self-Care Strategies’ section of this website.

What are the common symptoms associated with gout?

Symptoms of gout flares can include pain, tenderness or swelling in one or more of the following joints:

  • Big toe
  • Instep
  • Ankle
  • Heel
  • Knee
  • Achilles tendon
  • Wrist
  • Finger
  • Elbow