Understanding Gout: How Long Does a Gout Flare up Last For?

An arthritic condition by itself is sufficient to generate enough discomfort but gout is by far the most painful form of it. How long does a gout flare up last, is something that a person can find himself or herself wondering when in serious discomfort that is usually signified by redness of the big toe, followed by pain, swelling and a stiffness of joints.

Known as the disease of kings, a gout condition can even spread to the ankles, heels, knees, fingers and elbows and the worst thing is that it all happens in a sneaky way. Initial attacks may go away on their own in a matter of days, but from there on, the situation only gets worse.

What really is gout?

When there are very high levels of uric acid in a person’s blood stream, the acid forms into crystals in joints and leads to a form of inflammatory arthritis known as gout. This ends up causing tenderness, swelling and severe pain in various joints located throughout our bodies.

Usually, uric acid dissolves in the blood stream and passes through our kidneys and exits the body in the form of urine. But in certain instances, its presence in our bodies can drastically increase and there are a few reasons why that happens. For e.g. maybe your body is producing way more uric acid than it was before or perhaps your kidneys are not able to dispose off of enough uric acid.

In many conditions the concentration of uric acid in our blood stream can increase simply because we are consuming a lot of food items that are rich in purines, a nitrogen rich chemical compound found in many food items that when broken down, turns into uric acid. When uric acid levels start rising in the blood it leads to a condition known as hyperuricemia and when this excess uric acid forms into crystals, it leads to the development of gout. It is important to note that it is not necessary that every hyperuricemic condition will lead to gout.

What else can cause gout?

If you have any history of family members suffering from gout, then it is very likely that the precedent will repeat itself in your case too. If you are a man that is overweight and drinks a lot of alcohol then your chances of developing a gout condition are high as well.

In fact, a statistical study done in 2007 found that over 6% of American men suffered from gout as opposed to only 2% of women. It has indeed been proven that gout is the most common form of arthritis in both men and women.

In a study done in New Zealand over a 10-year period they found that out of 34,318 cases of gout that were registered, more than three quarters were men. Unsurprisingly, a considerable majority of those admitted with the diseases suffered from high blood pressure (19%) or a chronic kidney disease (16%) or in some cases, a cardiovascular disease (14%).

Constant consumption of foods that are rich in Purines like organ meats (liver, kidney, brain), game meats, bacon, beef, pork and lamb leads to this condition. Eating anchovies, sardines, mackerel, scallops and herring can also cause it. Lastly if you drink beer in large quantities on a regular basis then the chances of you suffering from gout are rather high (especially if you are a man).

In general, being overweight, living an unhealthy lifestyle and over indulging in meat and beer consumption increases a person’s chances of developing a gout condition.

How long does a gout flare up last for?

The answer to the question “how long does a gout flare up last for?” is very complicated. Unfortunately there is no set answer to this as it varies from person to person. Is it your first attack? How long have you suffered from the condition? A gout flare up duration depends completely on the disease’s history with the person, although there are a bunch of generalizations that can be made.

The duration of gout attacks can last from a couple of days to a few weeks, depending on how serious the condition is. They are most painful for the first 12 -24 hours and then gradually decline in terms of discomfort till the pain goes away completely. The situation can be made much easier by treating the condition rather than letting it linger and waiting for it to disappear on its own.

In fact, most of the people who report suffering from chronic gout conditions, end up so as a result of non-treatment. A terrible decision as some conditions can go on as long as 28 days when they are not taken care of right away. While it cannot be completely eradicated, a gout flare up duration can be considerably controlled.

Dealing with an acute gout attack

If you are new to gout attacks or are suffering from mild ones that last a few days then there are a few things you can do at home to shorten the gout attack duration and avoid too much discomfort. First of all it is very important to keep your body hydrated by drinking water and by avoiding alcoholic as well soda based drinks.

Taking an anti inflammatory medicine (Like aspirin and ibuprofen) while icing the painful joints with an ice pack helps relieve pain as well. If you are not able to go about your day without considerable discomfort then it is imperative that you take it easy, relax and ask your family members or co-workers for help. Remember, putting more pressure on painful areas is not going to help at all.

The initial period of a gout attack is going to be the worst so when you undertake the treatments mentioned above, you are combating the pain from the attack and allowing it to subside much more quickly than it otherwise would have on its own.

Medication for gout treatment

The only way to stop gout pain is to bring down the levels of uric acid in your body to 5mg/dl or below, so that the uric acid crystals can dissolve away much faster. If the gout remedies mentioned above do not provide you much relief, then chances are that your condition is too serious to be treated at home with over the counter medicines.

It is crucial to consult a doctor at this stage so that he or she can prescribe you the correct amount of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) that will quickly relieve the pain and reduce the swelling. It is very important that you take such meds within 24 hours of the initial attack if you want to drastically shorten its length. Some doctors also prescribe colchicine and as with other medicines, it is crucial that you take it with the first signs of an attack.

In case a patient does not respond to other medications and the condition doesn’t get better, doctors rely upon corticosteroids that are then injected into the problematic joints. This helps the body to produce corticosteroids naturally and treat the gout condition.

Lifestyle changes and gout

While medicines may provide quick relief, one cannot completely rely on them. If you want to avoid frequent gout flare ups then the best way is to bring about a complete lifestyle change.

If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and are overweight as a result then it is imperative that you star exercising and keep an eye on what you eat. Limiting the consumption of meat (and foods rich in purines) and of alcohol beverages is the first step in the process. Switching to low fat dairy products and increasing the quantity of vegetables and fruits in your daily diet helps as well. If you are a man that loves his ale, then sadly you will have to cut back on its consumption.

Very often gout attacks are triggered by stress and while we cannot eliminate all the stress and worry we face in our daily lives, we must strive to reduce it as much as possible. Things like taking a quiet walk, meditation and correct breathing can do a great deal in distressing your mind. Getting enough sleep (and rest) every night is also important, especially considering the fact that when you are having a gout flare up, you are not likely to get much rest.

Gout is a painful condition and suffering through a flare up is no easy task. However by putting the tips mentioned in this article in practice and by consulting with your doctor, you can make it that much more bearable than it would have been otherwise. Don’t fret over making all these changes at once. Take it step by step, tweak it little by little and see what works for you best.

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