Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis caused due to build-up of uric acid in the joints. The disease cannot be cured, but is highly treatable with medication. Some people may develop complications, especially if it is not managed properly.
Prognosis of gout
Initial Attack: Gout attacks are painful and debilitating, but usually subside even without treatment in one to two weeks. After the first attack of gout, many people may remain symptom-free for long period of time. In many patients, however, the symptoms may eventually return after a period of months or years. The risk of recurrence of symptoms is higher in patients, who are not treated with uric acid-lowering drugs. According to studies, the risk of recurrence if a person is not treated with uric acid-lowering drugs is 62%, 78%, and 84% during the first, second and third year, respectively.
Medical Treatment: There is no cure for gout, but treatment with pain relieving medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine (a toxic natural product useful for treatment of gout and other arthritis-like problems) and/or corticosteroids help relieve the pain in people with acute gout attack within 12 to 48 hours. Long-term administration of uric acid-lowering drugs can suppress gout attacks, their recurrence and prevent long-term complications of the disease. There, however, are few effective uric acid-lowering agents and in cases of medication intolerance or ineffectiveness, the person is not left with many options.
Other aspects of management: Lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol, losing weight if you are obese/overweight, eating a low-purine diet, eating plant based proteins can improve gout symptoms. After an acute attack of gout, following the doctor’s recommendations regarding medications can help to prevent future attacks.
Complications: A person, who is not treated for gout, is at risk of developing tophi (hard nodular masses of uric acid crystals). They occur in about 50% of people after 10 years and 72% of people after 20 years if they are not treated. About 2% of patients not treated for gout develop severe debilitating arthritis about 20 years after the first attack.
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