Gout isn’t limited to painful attacks. It’s a chronic, progressive disease that can have long-term effects, even between flares.
While excess uric acid causes crystals that result in joint swelling, pain and flares, more damage can be done over the long term. Without treatment, people with gout may have frequent gout attacks with increasing severity and duration over time. An estimated 60 percent of people who have a gout attack will have a second one within a year.1 Over time, attacks may become more frequent, last longer, and involve more joints.
While sometimes, a gout attack may occur for no reason, other times there are definite triggers such as alcohol, certain foods or medications. How gout develops varies from person to person, but the most important contributing factor is elevated serum urate or uric acid levels in the blood. If uric acid levels are too high, crystals may form in the joints, leading to joint damage over time.
If you suffer from gout, once you’ve worked with your doctor to manage the immediate pain of a gout attack, it’s time to think about the long term. Preventing further attacks and complications associated with gout are important management goals. High uric acid levels are the underlying disorder in gout. If you don’t know your uric acid levels, discuss it with your doctor during your next visit and set a treatment target of less than 0.36 mmol/L to help crystals dissolve, and prevent them from forming – a critical goal in gout management.2
Here is a handy patient guide to the long-term treatment of gout that you can take to your doctor to assist with your treatment plan. Click here.
Other resources can be accessed at these websites:
- Taking Control of Your Gout booklet by Arthritis Australia. (Click Here)
- Gout Information pages by HealthDirect Australia. (Click Here)
- Arthritis Foundation Website: What is Gout? – accessed 23/03/2016; http://www.arthritistoday.org/about-arthritis/types-of-arthritis/gout/what-you-need-to-know/what-is-gout.php
- Taking Control of Your Gout bookelet, Arthritis Australia, September 2015. Accessed 01/04/2016: http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/images/stories/documents/booklets/2016/ArthAus_Gout_screen.pdf