- sudden severe pain in a joint – usually your big toe, but it can be in other joints in your feet, hands, wrists, elbows or knees
- hot, swollen, red skin over the affected joint
These are symptoms of gout.
An attack of gout usually lasts 5 to 7 days, then gets better. It may not cause lasting damage to joints if you get treatment immediately.
Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if:
- the pain is getting worse
- you also have a very high temperature (you feel hot and shivery)
- you also feel sick or cannot eat
These symptoms could mean you have an infection inside your joint and need urgent medical help.
Treatment to reduce pain and swelling
If the pain and swelling does not improve you may be given steroids as tablets or an injection.
take any medicine you've been prescribed as soon as possible – it should start to work within 2 days
rest and raise the limb
keep the joint cool – apply an ice pack, or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, for up to 20 minutes at a time
drink lots of water (unless a GP tells you not to)
try to keep bedclothes off the affected joint at night
do not put pressure on the joint
Gout can come back every few months or it may be years. It can come back more often if it's not treated.
If you have frequent attacks or high levels of uric acid in your blood, you may need to take uric acid-lowering medicine.
It's important to take uric acid-lowering medicine regularly, even when you no longer have symptoms.
Things you can do to prevent gout coming back
Making lifestyle changes may mean you can stop or reduce further attacks.
get to a healthy weight, but avoid crash diets – try the NHS weight loss plan
eat a healthy, balanced diet – your doctor may give you a list of foods to include or limit
have some alcohol-free days each week
drink plenty of fluids to avoid getting dehydrated
exercise regularly – but avoid intense exercise or putting lots of pressure on joints
ask a GP about vitamin C supplements
do not eat offal, such as kidneys or liver, or seafood
do not have lots of sugary drinks and snacks
do not eat lots of fatty foods
do not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, and spread your drinking over 3 or more days if you drink as much as 14 units
Symptoms of gout include sudden pain and swelling in a joint, such as your big toe or knees.
An attack of gout can be treated with anti-inflammatories. Regular exercise, being a healthy weight and reducing alcohol can help prevent attacks.
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