If you or your friend or a family member have been recently diagnosed with gout and would like to know more about gout, its symptoms, treatment, and medications. Keep reading this article as it will help you understand more about gout and medication used in Gout treatment.

What is gout, and what does it look like?

Gout is a condition that occurs when uric acid builds up in the body. The accumulation of uric acid causes swollen, red, hot, and stiff joints. 

Uric acid is formed from the breakdown of purines. Purines are stored in body tissues and are available in food such as dried beans, anchovies, peas, and liver. In normal individuals, uric acids dissolve in blood, and it passes through the kidneys and is excreted out of the body via urine. However, in some cases, uric acids accumulate and form needle-like crystals, and they may form in joints, which becomes a harrowing experience. The crystals may also lead to kidney stones formation. Gout can also attack ankles, wrists, fingers, elbows, and knees. 

If you have gout, you may experience swelling and pain in joints (especially the foot). Sudden intense pain or gout attacks can make you feel like your foot is on fire. 

Gout Symptoms

 The majority of the people have too much blood uric acid levels but do not have any symptoms. On the other hand, signs and symptoms occur suddenly and often at night. The symptoms include: 

  • Inflammation of joint or joints 
  • Redness of joint or joints 
  • Limited range of motion 
  • Intense joint pain 
  • Lingering joint pain 

Between the gout attacks, you may not experience any symptoms. While if you do not treat gout, it can become chronic. The uric acid crystals may become hard lumps and develop in your joints, skin, and soft tissue surrounding the joints. These lumps may cause permanent damage to your joints. 

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Causes of Gout

Gout is a cumulation of uric acid in your blood formed from the breakdown of purines. Certain conditions may cause increased uric acid production or reduce uric acid excretion, such as dehydration, blood, and metabolic disorders, kidney disorders, thyroid problems, or genetic conditions. 

Risk Factors: You are likely to have gout if you: 

  • Consume alcohol 
  • Have a family history of gout 
  • Middle-aged man 
  • Postmenopausal woman 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Kidney disease 
  • Thyroid disease
  • Diabetes 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Consume food that is rich in purines 
  • Medications (diuretics and cyclosporine)
  • Overweight 
  • Recent surgery or trauma

Gout Treatment and Medications 

The treatment aims to reduce pain and inflammation or the frequency of gout attacks. Some traditional treatments include making dietary changes and taking medications. 

Diet modification

Diet alteration is a vital way to reduce the number of gout attacks. Diet modification aims to lower blood uric acid levels. The following changes may help you to reduce gout symptoms: 

  • Consume a lot of water or non-alcoholic beverages 
  • Consume low fat or nonfat dairy products
  • Decrease or stop alcohol consumption
  • Avoid consumption of high purine foods 
  • Consume complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread)
  • Reduce meat consumption 
  • Switching to plant-based protein (beans and legumes)

Treating Gout with Medications

Several medications of different classes are used in the treatment of gout. The motto of the treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation, decrease uric acid production, or increase uric acid excretion. 

  • Medication that decreases pain and inflammation: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Colchicine, and Corticosteroids are some of the examples that reduce the number of gout attacks, thus reducing the pain and inflammation caused by it
  • Medications that increase uric acid excretion: Probenecid is a drug that improves kidneys’ function to remove uric acid from the blood 
  • Medications that reduce uric acid production: Xanthine oxidase inhibitors (Allopurinol) reduce the amount of uric acid production, thus helping to reduce the number of gout attacks

How does Allopurinol help?

Allopurinol belongs to the xanthine oxidase inhibitor class of medication. It is used to treat gout, high uric acid levels in the body caused by certain medications, and kidney stones. Allopurinol works by reducing the production of uric acid in the body. High uric acid levels in the body cause gout attacks or kidney stones. Thus, Allopurinol prevents gout attacks, but it does not treat them. 

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Allopurinol Use, dosage, and frequency 

Allopurinol is available in tablet form and taken by oral route. Your physician may prescribe you to take the medication once or twice daily. The medication is usually to be taken after a meal. You should take the medication at the same time so that you do not forget to take medication. 

Allopurinol 100mg and 300mg

Allopurinol tablets are available in two strengths, 100 mg and 300 mg. Usually, your physician will start your treatment at 100 mg and gradually increase the dose by 100 mg per week until you have reached desired serum uric acid levels. The maximum adult dose prescribed is 800 mg per day in divided doses.

Always follow the direction on your prescription label or instructions given by your healthcare worker. In case of any queries, always ask your doctor or pharmacist for an explanation. Do not take more or less than prescribed by your physician. 

If you miss taking the medication, take it as soon as you remember it. However, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule if it is almost the next dose. You should not take a double dose. 

How long does it take for Allopurinol to work?

You will observe the full benefit of the treatment with Allopurinol after several months. It is possible that during the initial phase of treatment, the number of gout attacks may increase, although the attacks will decrease over a period. You should not stop taking Allopurinol even if you feel well. Always consult your physician before stopping the medication.  

Allupurinol Side effects 

Like all the medications, Allopurinol also has side effects. It is possible that you may not experience any side effects or may experience minor side effects. Inform your doctor if any of the below mentioned side effects are severe or do not go away:

  • Diarrhea 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Stomach upset 

Some of the side effects can be serious and may require medical attention. Call your doctor immediately if you experience them: 

  • Itching 
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Painful urination 
  • Skin rash 
  • Swelling of lips or mouth 
  • Fever 
  • Sore throat 
  • Chills 
  • Blood in urine 
  • Irritation of the eyes 

The above-mentioned side effects are not comprehensive. You may experience other side effects while taking this medication. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any unusual or persistent side effects.

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Other precautions while on Allopurinol: Alcohol, pregnancy and food

Please inform your doctor and pharmacist about allergies to Allopurinol or any of its ingredients. If you have any other allergies, do not forget to share the same with the healthcare professional. 

Inform your health worker about other prescription, non-prescription medications, and nutritional supplements that you are taking. Also, inform about vitamins and herbal supplements you are taking or planning to take. 

Inform your doctor if you ever had kidney, heart, or liver disease. You should inform your physician if you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while on treatment with Allopurinol, inform your doctor immediately. 

Allopurinol and feeling dizzy or drowsy

Allopurinol may make you feel drowsy. You should not drive or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you. 

You should not consume alcoholic beverages while taking Allopurinol, as alcohol reduces the effectiveness of the medication. 

Drink at least eight glasses of water or other fluids each day while on treatment with Allopurinol, unless directed to do otherwise by your physician. 

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