How long do I take my gout medications

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Medications given to patients with gout can be broadly classified into three groups. And how long you take them depends on their role in treatment.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDS. Included under this group are your NSAIDs (such indomethacin, naproxen, diclofenac, ibuprofen, celecoxib and etoricoxib), colchicine and steroids. These medications are used to treat acute attacks of gout (i.e. when joints are painful, swollen and warm). When given for this purpose, these are typically prescribed for 1-2 weeks. They are used intermittently and are not considered maintenance meds.

PROPHYLACTIC MEDS. These meds are used to prevent repeat attacks of gout. These are given for longer periods of time and are stopped when the risks of having repetitive attacks have been lowered. Included under this group are the NSAID naproxen, the steroid prednisone and colchicine. If you noticed, they are also used as anti-inflammatory meds. But when given for prophylaxis, they are prescribed at lower doses. Like anti-inflammatory meds, these are not considered maintenance meds.

URATE LOWERING MEDS. These meds are the most important ones used in treating gout. When used properly, they lower uric acid in the body to levels that prevent attacks of gout and prevent complications (tophi and kidney stones). Available locally are allopurinol, febuxostat and sulfinpyrazone.Once started for gout (they also have other uses), these medications are considered maintenance (i.e. used for life).  However, the dose at which you take them largely depends on your blood uric acid levels and the status of your kidneys and liver.

If you notice, there are several meds listed under a particular category. The choice of medication depends on your prior experience with the listed meds (if any), your other illnesses, your response to the drugs, and the potential harms given your profile. Do make sure to consult and discuss with a doctor before taking any of the above medications.

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