Gout is a disease that has been littered with false information including; what causes it, how best to treat, and with what medication.
There’s been an effective and inexpensive drug treatment for decades – so why are the lives of so many Māori and Pasifika hampered by gout?
What causes gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis, caused by the formation of urate crystals in the joint, commonly the big toe joint. It is extremely painful, and can cause significant disability and time off work.
Gout can be caused by the genes we inherited but is also influenced by:
- ethnicity – Pacifica and Māori are more prone to gout
- gender – men are more commonly affected than women
- increasing age
People with gout may be overweight and can have other long-term illnesses such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease.
For some people, gout occurs rarely, for others gout attacks can occur often. During an attack, crystals within the affected joint can damage it, just as sand in an engine damages the engine. Gout often occurs in the big toe but can affect many joints. People with long-standing gout can also get visible painful lumps under the skin called tophi (pronounced toe-fy).
If gout runs in your family, reduce your chances of getting it by maintaining a healthy weight. If you are overweight, try reducing your weight in a sustainable way by aiming to lose 1-2 kilos per month. Reducing triggers such as red meat, fish, alcohol and non-diet soft drinks can also help. Alcohol and soft drinks also add in unwanted empty calories to your diet as well.
There are support groups for people with gout arthritis, find out more at Arthritis New Zealand.
How medication can affect gout
There are different medications that you can use to either relieve, or help prevent, gout.
A single attack of gout can be treated with anti-inflammatories, oral steroids or colchicine. However, frequent use of anti-inflammatories can cause kidney disease, so if you have frequent gout attacks see your doctor to discuss pain relief and preventative therapy.
If you have two or more gout attacks in a year, you can talk to your doctor about moving to a urate lowering medicine like allopurinol. Lowering the amount of urate in the blood stops gout from occurring. This medication is usually taken every day, whether you are having a gout attack, or not. You will also need to see your doctor for pain relief.
Some medicines prescribed for other long term diseases can actually aggravate gout – but should not be stopped because of this. If you believe your gout is caused by any long-term medicines you are taking for other conditions, talk to your doctor, and use the preventative treatments described above to stop your gout occurring in the first place.
Have a question about your medication?
If you have any questions about your gout medicines, ZOOM’s pharmacists are available to answer any questions you may have, simply FreePhone 0508 966 622.
Get your gout medicine delivered from ZOOM Pharmacy
When you get your gout medicine from ZOOM Pharmacy, we deliver directly to your door anywhere in NZ. Simply send ZOOM your prescription. You can do this through your patient portal, or tell your medical centre to send it, or take a photo and securely upload your prescription, or freepost / courier it yourself. A pharmacist will then get in touch and take it from there.
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