two people standing in sea cold water with starfish relating to gout treatments

Gout is a form of arthritis and a condition that is often misunderstood and surrounded by myths. Gout is a common form of arthritis that is caused by the build-up of uric acid in the body. 

The good news is that gout is essentially the only curable form of arthritis. So, whilst it is extremely painful, once diagnosed and treated the long term prognosis is excellent. 

Those who suffer from gout often experience intense pain and swelling in their joints. Here are our top 5 FAQs about gout; 

What are the warning signs of gout? 

Unfortunately, the build-up of uric acid can be a silent affair. The real noticeable symptoms only become apparent when there’s an attack or a gout flare up. A gout attack can last between 5 and 7 days. 


 The onset of gout is often swift and merciless. 

The pain is intense and can appear overnight.   

The symptoms of gout are sudden severe pain in any joint, usually the big toe but it can affect other joints such as fingers, wrists or elbows with swollen red skin over them to indicate the proximity of gout. 

If the condition worsens and becomes unmanageable with over-the-counter medication a GP or 111 should be contacted. Also look out for the following; 

  • high temperature
  • nausea
  • worsening pain 

If any of the above occur a GP or 111 should be contacted immediately. 

It is important to discuss the attack with your GP as they may well be able to prevent another attack happening. The GP will test you often blood tests, scan or a Synovial fluid test and possibly prescribe either allopurinol or febuxostat, both highly effective medications. 

What is the best way to get rid of gout? 

The first thing to do is to take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) like ibuprofen. If this doesn’t help alleviate the pain contact your GP or 111 immediately.

There are also more practical actions that can be taken. 


Cool the affected limb or joint with an ice pack. Do not place ice pack in direct contact with skin always use a towel. If you don’t have an ice pack some frozen veg will do the trick. Avoid excess pressure on the affected area and remove after 20 minutes max. 

Rest and raise the limb or joint. 

Drink lots of water (unless instructed otherwise by a healthcare professional) 

The treatment of gout is dealt with in two ways; 

  • Treatment of gout attack – NSAIDs like ibuprofen, steroids, colchicine.
  • Treatment of prevention of gout – Allupurinol, Febuxostat, Uricosuric drugs. 

These drugs can take several months to clear your system of the urate crystals but are highly effective in putting an end to gout attacks. 

What foods cause gout?

As with many conditions a healthy diet can play a vital role in combatting the condition. 

raw steak on plate one of the worst foods you can eat for gout

There are particular foods to consume in moderation and as part of a balanced diet; 

  • Red meats, kidney, liver, heart, venison, rabbit and offal. 
  • Processed foods like ham or bacon. 
  • Processed drink such as sugary carbonated drink. Beer and spirits high in purines. 
  • Products high in Meat and Yeast Extracts, Bovril, Marmite, beer and commercial gravy. 
  • Seafood, specifically mussels, crab and shellfish, caviar and cod roe. 
  • Oily fish, Sardines, mackerel anchovies and herring.   

UK Gout Society Diet factsheet offers some great advice to get started. 

Be aware that extreme weight loss or crash diets are NOT recommended as these can elevate the urate levels in the system and worsen the gout symptoms. Although gradual and responsible weight loss might be recommended. 

How do you get gout?

Gout is a painful and frustrating condition known as hyperuricemia that can be difficult to manage. The cause of gout, uric acid build up in your blood leads to the formation small sharp crystals which are then deposited around joints causing inflammation or pain. 

If you produce too much or don't filter enough out it'll eventually lead towards tiny needles-like objects forming within these deposits called "tophi." 

There can be multiple reason why individuals develop gout. As with so many conditions these vary wildly from person to person. It is more common in men over 50 but can appear in women too. 

However, the main factors for many are the following; 

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Genetics
  • Recently been through the menopause
  • Recently undergone surgery
  • On medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney stone problems diabetes or osteoarthritis. 

Due to the varied causes it is always recommended that gout is flagged to your GP so that other variables can be considered before giving treatment.    

Is gout hereditary?  My father has gout a lot. Is it something I can avoid? 

Gout can run in families but that doesn’t mean a person is guaranteed to develop it. Moreover, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of gout developing. 

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood that then forms crystals around the joints, resulting in inflammation and pain.  Uric acid is naturally formed in the body when chemicals called purines are broken down.

So, reducing, or avoiding, foods and drinks high in purines may help.

These include offal, game, and seafood. Beer and stout are also high in purines. Drinking enough liquid to remain hydrated lessens the chance of crystals forming. 

Keeping to a healthy weight helps too as being overweight is linked to high blood uric acid levels.

Some medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol increase the risk of gout so it’s best to avoid these for this and other important reasons. 

- Dr Rob Hicks, GP (author of Old Fashioned Remedies: From Arsenic to Gin) 


Any information of a medical nature on this website is given to provide a general understanding of a medical condition or conditions. No patient/doctor relationship is to be inferred and you should seek medical advice from a qualified practitioner. Nothing on this site should be used as a substitute for competent advice from a qualified medical practitioner.



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