Gout Flares

Gout Flares: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Gout flares are sudden, painful episodes of joint inflammation caused by a build-up of uric acid in the body. Gout flares usually affect the joint of the big toe, but may also affect other joints like the heels, ankles, wrists, fingers, and elbows. The pain of gout flares can be intense and can last from several hours to several days.

Gout flares can be triggered by certain lifestyle factors, such as alcohol consumption, as well as certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It is important to identify what is triggering your gout flares in order to avoid them or reduce their intensity.

Causes of Gout Flares

  • Consuming too much alcohol, especially beer.
  • Having certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • High levels of uric acid in the body due to eating certain foods, such as shellfish, red meat, organ meats, and anchovies.
  • Being overweight and eating food high in calories and saturated fat.
  • Taking certain medications, including diuretics, aspirin, or cyclosporine.

Symptoms of Gout Flares

  • Intense joint pain, usually affecting the big toe first, accompanied by redness, swelling, and tenderness.
  • Warmth and firmness in the affected area.
  • Restricted movement of the affected joints.

Treatments for Gout Flares

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Colchicine, a medication to reduce inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids, a type of steroid medication to reduce inflammation.
  • Changing lifestyle habits, such as following a low-purine diet and avoiding certain foods, such as shellfish and red meat.