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 (Graf et al. 2015; Khanna et al. 2012; Richette et al. 2016).

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 (Khanna et al. 2012).

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 (Graf et al. 2015; Richette et al. 2016).

Hospitalisations

Data from the AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD) show that, in 2017-18:

  • 7,781 hospitalisations had a principal diagnosis of gout (31 per 100,000 population)
  • 79% of all hospitalisations for gout were for males (6,133 hospitalisations), compared with 21% for females (1,648 hospitalisations)
  • hospitalisation age-specific rates increased with age and was highest for people aged 85 and over (271 per 100,000 population) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Rate of hospitalisation for gout, by sex and age, 2017–18

This vertical bar chart compares the rate (per 100,000 population) of hospitalisations for gout, across various age groups by sex, in 2017–18. The hospitalisation rates for gout increased with age and was highest for people aged 85 and over for both males (424) and females (177). 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 2008–09 and 2017–18 from 19 hospitalisations per 100,000 population to 27 per 100,000 population. There was a slightly larger increase for females (43%, from 7 to 10 per 100,000 population) compared with males (39%, from 33 to 46 per 100,000 population) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Hospitalisation for gout, by sex, 2008–09 to 2017–18

This line chart shows that between 2008–09 and 2017–18, hospitalisation rates (per 100,000 age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population) for gout rose 43%25 for females (from 7 to 10 per 100,000 population) and 39%25 for males (from 33 to 46 per 100,000 population).

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database (Data table).