09 Jan

Gout – Prevention & Medication

Gout is a disease that is littered with old wives’ tales and false information including; what causes it, how best to treat, and with what medication.

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, can be embarrassing for some, and also causes significant disability and time off work. 

Gout can be caused by the genes we inherited but is also influenced by:

  • ethnicity – Pacifica and Maori are more prone to gout 
  • gender – men are more commonly affected than women 
  • increasing age

People with gout are often overweight and may 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.

How medication can affect gout

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.

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 move to urate lowering medicines like allopurinol.  Lowering the amount of urate in the blood stops gout from occurring, and slowly reduces tophi.  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. 

Get your medicines from ZOOM

Taking a medicine every day for something that may happen only rarely, like gout, can be difficult. ZOOM Pharmacy makes managing your meds really easy. Receive daily text reminders to take your meds so you don’t forget, and talk with a pharmacist at a time that suits you, without having to stand in queue or have other people overhear what you say.

ZOOM delivers your prescription meds direct to your door, your repeats are organised for you.

Call 0508966622 Monday to Friday 7AM-6PM to speak to a ZOOM Pharmacist and find out more about our great FREE medicines sachet pack service for patients on four meds or more.