Gout, otherwise knows as gouty arthritis, is a condition in which joints suddenly become swollen, red and severely painful. Gout attacks occur when the body fails to properly dispose of uric acid. The acid crystallizes and deposits itself either in joints' connective tissue or the fluid that cushions the joints. Gout attacks generally materialize as sharp pain and swelling of the outside joint of the big toe, but they can also occur in foot, ankle, wrist and hand joints. Gout attacks generally last for five to 10 days, with the pain and swelling subsiding gradually until they are completely gone.
Though gout generally can heal on its own, that process may be too painful to live with for the five to 10 days it will require. For more immediate relief, visit a doctor. There are several different treatments that can speed your recovery from the attack. Doctors generally prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to take down the swelling and pain. Colchicine, which is an alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs, is also an option. Additionally, the doctor can administer either an oral or injected steroid to speed the recovery process.
Though gout attacks subside, the condition can return unless you harness your high uric acid levels. Your body makes uric acid when it breaks down certain foods, such as asparagus, mushrooms and herring. Simply adjusting your diet to take in fewer of these foods may get rid of gout for good. However, in most cases doctors also prescribe a medication that lowers uric acid levels in the body. It is important to get gout under control because when left untreated, recurring attacks can damage the joints.