Over-the-Counter Medications and Other Remedies for at-Home Gout Relief

Over-the-Counter Medications and Other Remedies for at-Home Gout Relief

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen) are clinically recommended over-the-counter (OTC) medications for relieving symptoms of gout flares.

Gout pain occurs due to a build-up of tiny crystals made of uric acid around your joints. Uric acid is a waste product when the body breaks down protein. Too much formation of uric acid can cause a gout flare-up, resulting in pain, swelling, and redness of the joint.

Prescription medications can be used to reduce uric acid production and prevent flare-ups. However, if you're experiencing a painful gout attack, you might be wondering which OTC treatments or at-home remedies help provide relief.

This article will review OTC and at-home options for gout pain relief, and complementary remedies you can try. It will provide tips on what not to take for gout and how to prevent flare-ups in the first place.

OTC Drugs for Immediate Relief

Luckily, some of the best medications to help with your gout pain are available over-the-counter, and these are known as NSAIDs.

For gout flare-ups, you can find two OTC NSAIDs at the pharmacy or grocery store: ibuprofen and naproxen. Both of these medications provide the same effectiveness, so you can choose one or the other.

However, NSAIDs are only recommended for people under 60 years who do not have any kidney or heart problems or gastrointestinal diseases.

Topical OTC NSAIDs such as Voltaren Gel (diclofenac) are also available. However, topical creams are not strong enough to help with gout flare-ups.

NSAIDs are considered most effective when taken within 48 hours of symptom onset. You should stop NSAID use after all symptoms of a flare-up have resolved. It's not recommended to exceed seven to 10 days of NSAID use for a flare.

Managing Gout

While OTC NSAIDs can help manage pain, the best way to keep gout flare-ups under control is to identify your triggers and focus on preventing them. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe prescription treatments, such as colchicine or a corticosteroid (e.g., prednisone), especially if you're unable to take NSAIDs.

If you have continued symptoms, you might be prescribed other treatments like Zyloprim (allopurinol) to help lower uric acid levels.

For the best results for managing an active gout attack, combine pain-relieving medication with non-drug remedies, such as ice, hydration, and rest.

Other at-Home Remedies for Pain Relief

Since gout flares cause swelling and redness, applying an ice pack on the affected joint can help relieve the pain. Apply ice to the area for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, multiple times daily, to help reduce inflammation.

Other things you can do include:

• Drink plenty of fluids: Hydration helps flush out uric acid and prevents kidney stones.

• Rest up: Resting the affected joint is recommended until the pain subsides.

• Elevate your foot: This can help with swelling.

Complementary Options for Managing Gout

Gout is often managed with medications, but natural remedies have historically been used to help prevent gout attacks. The two most common natural remedies are vitamin C and tart cherries.

The main limitation of using natural remedies is that they are not the standard of treatment due to the limited amount of studies available to support their effectiveness.

Diet, on the other hand, is a proven way to help manage gout and prevent flare ups.

Vitamin C

Some studies suggest that vitamin C can lower uric acid levels. Since gout occurs due to a build-up of uric acid, taking vitamin C may help prevent gout flares.

While some studies suggest vitamin C can help prevent gout flare-ups, the American College of Rheumatology does not support using vitamin C to help manage gout.

Tart Cherry Juice

A collection of studies suggests that tart cherry juice consumption decreases uric acid levels, leading to fewer gout flares.

Despite these studies, more evidence is needed before tart cherry juice can be clinically recommended to help prevent gout flares.

Diet

Small changes in your diet are clinically proven to help prevent gout flares. Recommended foods that can help prevent gout flares include vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, and cauliflower.

In addition, plant-based protein such as tofu, beans, and whole grains can help meet your daily protein requirements and lower the risk of gout flares. Dairy intake has also been associated with a reduced risk.

What Not to Take for Gout Flare-Ups

If you are experiencing a gout flare-up, one medication you should avoid is low-dose aspirin. Low-dose aspirin can retain uric acid in your body, therefore worsening the gout attack.

However, if you take low-dose aspirin as a preventative measure for heart-related reasons, continue taking it as long as your healthcare provider tells you to.

How to Prevent Gout Attacks

Certain triggers can raise the chances of a gout flare-up, causing symptoms like painful and swollen joints.

Overproduction of uric acid can occur due to too much protein. If you've had previous gout flares, consider eating less high protein-based foods and foods or drinks high in sugar content. You should also avoid drinking alcohol.

Common foods with high protein content include the following:

• Shellfish (shrimp, oysters, crab, lobster)

• Coldwater fish (tuna, trout, herring, sardines)

• Red meat (beef, liver, bison)

Other potential triggers include:

• Alcohol

• Not drinking enough water

• Foods containing high-fructose corn syrup

• Stress

However, not everyone can pinpoint a direct link between these triggers and gout attacks.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If NSAIDs do not help treat the gout flares within one week of therapy, you should see your healthcare provider for other medications. Other than NSAIDs, prescription medications like steroids and colchicine can be used to treat your gout flares.

Summary

Treatments to help relieve symptoms of gout flares are available over-the-counter and include NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

If you are interested in trying natural remedies, vitamin C and tart cherry juice are thought to help prevent gout flares. However, the downside of these potential remedies is that they are not clinically proven to manage gout flares due to the lack of formal studies.

However, the best way to prevent gout flares is to know your triggers. Common triggers include consuming large amounts of red meat, shellfish, and alcohol. If OTC medications don’t treat your gout flares, contact your healthcare provider for other treatment options. You may need to take additional medications to help lower uric acid levels to prevent gout attacks further.