Treatment and management of gout

Gout can be managed or even prevented by long-term therapy with medications and life style changes to control hyperuricaemia and reduce levels of uric acid in the body.

Gout can be controlled with early and ongoing treatment, including:

  • establishing a definitive diagnosis
  • providing rapid pain relief for flares
  • preventing flares and complications [1,2,4].

Flares and complications can be managed by reducing risk factors for hyperuricaemia (dehydration, obesity and alcohol intake), taking urate-lowering medications to keep uric acid levels low, and managing comorbid conditions, such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease.

The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), low-dose colchicine and oral/intra-muscular/intra-articular glucocorticoids has also been found to be effective in managing acute gout. It has been recommended that people with gout should continue urate-lowering therapy for the rest of their lives [3].


Data from the AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD) show that, in 2016-17:

  • 7,718 hospitalisations had a principal diagnosis of gout (32 per 100,000 population)
  • 78% of all hospitalisations for gout were for males (6,022 hospitalisations), compared with 22% for females (1,696 hospitalisations)
  • hospitalisation age-specific rates increased with age and was highest for people aged 85 and over (265 per 100,000 population) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Rate of hospitalisation for gout, by sex and age, 2016–17

This vertical bar chart compares the rate (per 100,000 population) of hospitalisations for gout, across various age groups by sex, in 2016–17. The hospitalisation rates for gout increased with age and was highest for people aged 85 and over for both males (404) and females (182). The hospitalisation rates for gout were lowest in people aged less than 40 in males (8) and females (1).

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (Data table)

The age-standardised hospitalisation rate for Australians with gout increased between 2005–06 and 2016–17: from 20 hospitalisations per 100,000 population to 28 per 100,000 population. There was a slightly larger increase for females (57%, from 7 to 11 per 100,000 population) compared with males (40%, from 34 to 47 per 100,000 population).


  1. Graf SW, Whittle SL, Wechalekar MD, Moi JHY, Barrett C, Hill CL et al. 2015. Australian and New Zealand recommendations for the diagnosis and management of gout: integrating systematic literature review and expert opinion in the 3e Initiative. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 18:341–351.
  2. Khanna D, Fitzgerald JD, Khanna PP, Bae S, Singh MK, Neogi T et al. 2012. American College of Rheumatology guidelines for management of gout. Part 1: systematic nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic therapeutic approaches to hyperuricemia. Arthritis Care & Research 64(10):1431–1446.
  3. Perez-Ruiz F, Herrero-Beites AM & Carmona L 2011. A two-stage approach to the treatment of hyperuricemia in gout: the “dirty dish” hypothesis. Arthritis & Rheumatism 63(12):4002–4006.
  4. Richette P, Doherty M, Pascual E, Barskova V, Becce F, Castaneda-Sanabria J et al. 2016. 2016 updated EULAR evidence-based recommendation for the management of gout. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-209707.