Which Medicines Treat Gout?

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on January 08, 2024
4 min read

The good news about gout is that you can control it. Medicines help in two ways: They reduce pain during an attack and can reduce the uric acid buildup that causes the condition.

When uric acid builds up in your body, it can form crystals that irritate your joints.

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis. An attack may come after an illness or injury. The first sign is often pain in the big toe. It usually affects one joint at a time, but gout can spread to other joints and leave them looking red and swollen.

The pain from a gout attack usually gets better in 3 to 10 days. But you'll feel better faster with gout treatment. If you think you might have it, contact your doctor. An exam and tests will show if it's gout or something else, like an infection.

Talk with your doctor about the best medicines for you. The type will depend on how well your kidneys work, the possible side effects, and other health issues.

Medicines to treat gout center on easing pain and inflammation during a gout attack and lowering uric acid levels in your blood to help avoid future gout-related health problems.

Immediate gout pain relief

NSAIDs offer quick pain relief by helping to lower pain and swelling in the joints during a gout attack. Popular OTC gout treatments are ibuprofen and naproxen. If you take NSAIDs in the first 24 hours, it can help shorten the attack. Other ways to ease pain include ice, rest, and raising the joint. Between gout attacks, you can also take a warm shower and apply heat with a hot water bottle or heating pad.

Gout medications

Your doctor may suggest one of these medicines that you can't get over the counter:

Medicines to ease gout pain and inflammation

Medicines to avoid gout flares and further gout-related health problems

Gout creams

Creams and gels applied to the skin are another type of gout treatment. Products such as diclofenac (Voltaren) and Gout Buster work by lowering inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain.

Natural gout treatments

Certain foods and supplements could help to treat gout, including:

  • Cherries. Antioxidants called anthocyanins found in the pigment of cherries may help ward off and treat gout by lowering uric acid levels. Studies show concentrated forms of cherries, such as juice, extracts, and supplements, show the most health benefits.
  • Bromelain. You'll find this group of enzymes in the fruit and stem of a pineapple. It could ease the pain and swelling of gout and other types of arthritis.
  • Vitamin C. Studies show vitamin C can lower uric acid levels in people living with gout and even prevent the illness. You can boost your vitamin C levels with foods like citrus fruit, peppers, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, or with a supplement.  

Talk to your doctor before taking a supplement as part of your gout treatment plan.

Along with medicine, your doctor may suggest gout self-care lifestyle changes to prevent another attack:

Gout diet

What you eat and drink could play a role in gout attacks.

Food and drinks to avoid:

  • Sugary drinks
  • Excessive alcohol use, especially beer
  • Meat with high purine levels, especially liver, kidney, and sweetbreads

What to eat and drink:

  • Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are sources of complex carbs
  • Lean meat and poultry, low-fat dairy, and lentils for protein
  • Coffee, which may lower your chances of getting gout
  • Moderate portions of fish

Gout triggers

High levels of uric acid can trigger gout or a gout attack. Here are some things that may raise your uric acid levels:

  • Extra pounds. Your body makes more uric acid, and your kidneys have trouble getting rid of it when you're overweight.
  • Medical conditions. Your odds of getting gout rise when you have certain health conditions like untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and kidney disease.
  • Certain medicines. Medicines you take to lower high blood pressure, including thiazide diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and beta blockers, can raise uric acid levels. Low-dose aspirin and antirejection drugs taken after an organ transplant may have the same effect.
  • Surgery or trauma. A recent surgery, trauma, or vaccine can trigger a gout attack or flare.

Gout is a painful arthritic condition that often begins in the big toe and spreads to other joints, leaving them swollen and discolored. Treatment usually starts with an over-the-counter NSAID to ease pain and inflammation. To prevent future gout attacks, your doctor may suggest prescription medicines that lower uric acid in your blood, and lifestyle changes like losing weight, drinking more water, and avoiding certain foods that can trigger a gout attack.