Gout drugs are medicines that prevent or relieve the symptoms of gout, a disease that affects the joints and kidneys.
Gout is a disease in which uric acid, a waste product that normally passes out of the body in urine, collects and forms crystals in the joints and the kidneys. When uric acid crystals build up in the joints, the tissue around the joint becomes inflamed, and nerve endings in the area become irritated, causing extreme pain. Uric acid crystals in the kidneys can lead to kidney stones and eventually to kidney failure.
The symptoms of gout—severe pain, usually in the hand or foot (often at the base of the big toe), but sometimes in the elbow or knee—should be reported to a health care professional. If not treated, gout can lead to high blood pressure, deformed joints, and even death from kidney failure. Fortunately, the condition is easily treated. For patients who have just had their first attack, physicians may prescribe only medicine to reduce the pain and inflammation, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, or colchicine. Patients may also be advised to change their eating and drinking habits, avoiding organ meats and other protein-rich foods, cutting out alcoholic beverages, and drinking more water. Some people never have another gout attack after the first. For those who do, physicians may prescribe additional drugs that either help the body get rid of uric acid or reduce the amount of uric acid the body produces. These drugs will not relieve gout attacks that already have started, but will help prevent attacks when taken regularly.
Nancy Ross-Flanigan, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,