Gout is an inflammatory joint disease, a kind of arthritis. It most often presents as acute, crippling pain in the joint of the big toe, though it may also produce pain in the fingers, wrists or knees. Gout is the result of a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joint and nearby tissues. It makes the affected joint swollen, red and hot to the touch. The pain from an attack of gout can be excruciating.
If you're suffering from an attack of gout, strip your shoe and sock off of your foot and lie down on a couch or bed, if you can. Elevate your foot (or affected area) and rest until the pain lessens; continue for 24 hours afterwards. In the meantime, take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain reliever, such as ibuprofen. Don't take more than the recommended dose and don't take NSAIDs if you have renal disease. Don't substitute aspirin because it may make gout worse. Ice down the affected joint to reduce inflammation and pain and stay hydrated.
When you feel able, go to the doctor to confirm that gout is the problem. The doctor might remove fluid from the affected joint to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor might also conduct blood and urine tests and check your blood pressure; conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are linked to gout. He might ask about other medications you are taking, since some medications make gout worse.
Your doctor might prescribe medication to help treat gout. You might be told to take Prednisone (steroids) for up to two weeks after your attack to lessen inflammation. Other medications, such as Colchicine, relieve an acute gout attack. Colchicine is taken within 12 to 24 hours of a gout attack. Your doctor might prescribe Allopurinol or Probenecid if you have repeated attacks of gout.
Animal proteins, seafood and alcohol can make gout worse, so if you have gout, it's best to eat these foods in moderation or to avoid them entirely. If you're in the middle of a gout attack, drink plenty of water to flush uric acid crystals out of your system, and abstain from alcohol. Being overweight increases your risk of gout; follow a moderate exercise plan to keep your weight under control.