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Gout medications: Short and long-term options

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Short-term medicationsLong-term medicationsSelf-care for goutSummary
Gout medications may include NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, corticosteroids like prednisone, and uricosuric agents like probenecid. These relieve pain and inflammation and lower uric acid levels.
Medically reviewed by Monica Kean, PharmD
Written by Rashida Ruwa, RN
Updated on July 18, 2023

Gout is a form of arthritis that manifests with repeated episodes of intense joint pain, inflammation, and swelling, which typically affects your big toe. 

Common gout symptoms may include:

  • intense joint pain, often in your big toe 
  • difficulty moving the affected joint
  • swelling and inflammation in the affected joint
  • sudden onset of pain, often at night

While there is no known cure for gout, you may be able to effectively manage it with natural remedies, medications, and lifestyle changes. 

Short-term medications for gout

Older woman with gout symptoms in need of gout medications
Photography by M-gucci/Getty Images

Depending on your symptoms and the stage of your condition, a healthcare professional may advise short or long-term medications.

For short-term gout management, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

1. Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is a common OTC NSAID. Your health team may suggest ibuprofen tablets to relieve pain and reduce inflammation during gout flare-ups.

Ibuprofen inhibits the production of prostaglandins, which are chemical compounds responsible for inflammation and pain, thus reducing and relieving these symptoms.

Common ibuprofen side effects may include:

  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

2. Naproxen

Naproxen (Naprosyn) is also an NSAID. A doctor may prescribe oral naproxen to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation during gout flares. 

Naproxen works by blocking the enzymes COX-1 and COX-2, which are responsible for producing prostaglandins, thus reducing inflammation and relieving pain in gout attacks.

Commonly reported naproxen side effects may include:

  • indigestion
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • dizziness

3. Indomethacin

Indomethacin (Indocin) is also an NSAID. A doctor may prescribe indomethacin oral capsules to relieve acute pain and inflammation during gout flares. 

Indomethacin works by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, reducing your symptoms.

Common side effects of indomethacin may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • dizziness

4. Colchicine  

Colchicine (Colcrys) belongs to a class of medications called anti-gout agents. A doctor may prescribe colchicine oral tablets to help with gout symptoms and prevent gout flares.

Colchicine works by lowering inflammation and reducing the movement of white blood cells into the affected joint. This helps relieve pain and swelling. 

Commonly reported colchicine side effects may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • muscle pain

5. Prednisone

Prednisone (Rayos) belongs to a class of medications called corticosteroids. A doctor can prescribe prednisone oral tablets to reduce acute inflammation. 

Prednisone suppresses your immune system, which reduces inflammation in your body, including the joints affected by gout.

Commonly reported prednisone side effects may include:

  • increased appetite
  • increased urination
  • weight gain
  • mood changes, like irritability
  • difficulty sleeping

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Long-term medications for gout

For ongoing gout management, your healthcare professional may prescribe medications to prevent flares and increase your everyday quality of life.

1. Allopurinol

Allopurinol (Zyloprim) belongs to a class of medications called xanthine oxidase inhibitors. A doctor may prescribe allopurinol tablets to prevent gout flares.

By inhibiting the enzyme xanthine oxidase, allopurinol decreases the production of uric acid in the body. This prevents the formation of urate crystals responsible for triggering gout pain.

Commonly reported allopurinol side effects include:

  • skin rash
  • nausea
  • diarrhea

2. Probenecid

Probenecid (Benemid) belongs to a class of medications called uricosuric agents.

Probenecid works by blocking uric acid from being reabsorbed in your kidneys, and it gets excreted in your urine instead. This reduces the overall uric acid levels in your body, preventing urate crystals from forming and reducing gout flares.

Commonly reported probenecid side effects include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • dizziness

Other management options for gout

In addition to medications, you may manage gout by adopting certain lifestyle modifications, including:

  • Dietary changes: Limiting high-purine foods such as organ meats, seafood, and certain vegetables like spinach and mushrooms may reduce the chance of gout flares.
  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated by drinking adequate water daily may help your body flush out uric acid.
  • Weight management: Maintaining the recommended weight for your age and height through regular exercise and a balanced diet may help manage gout.
  • Avoidance of triggers: Identifying and avoiding potential triggers, such as stress and certain medications like diuretics, may help prevent gout flares.
  • Alcohol limitation: Limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption, particularly beer and spirits, may help manage uric acid levels.

Summary

You can manage gout symptoms with the short and long-term use of medications. These drugs reduce inflammation, lower uric acid levels, and relieve pain.

Adopting specific lifestyle habits, such as eating a nutrient-dense diet, and avoiding triggering factors, may improve your quality of life and reduce the chance of gout flares.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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