Living with gout and other conditions

Some people we spoke to had other health conditions as well as gout. While most found that gout did not cause any more problems for their existing conditions, several felt that having gout as well made everyday life harder. Joe had COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and sometimes found it harder to breathe when he was walking upstairs. He felt that an attack of gout in his foot on top of that would be difficult. John ended up in hospital when he had a bad attack just three days after a stroke. The gout symptoms and effects of the stroke made walking and everyday tasks, like eating, very difficult.

Eric has made adaptations to his house because of other health problems, but they are also useful when he has an attack of gout.

Age at interview 87

Gender Male

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A few people felt that gout was the last thing they needed on top of their other health problems. Shirley Y sometimes found it hard to tell the difference between gout pain and pain from her other arthritis. Pat felt that she had a ‘double whammy’ of pain in her feet from gout as well as Morton’s neuroma (a condition that causes pain at the base of the toes). Val already had mobility issues because of back problems. Paula’s diagnosis came around the time she also found out about kidney problems. Some people saw gout as just another condition to deal with along with the others they had.

Val felt fed up about getting gout on top of her other conditions, all in the same month that she injured her neck.

Gender Female

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Gout treatment and other conditions

People’s other health problems sometimes affected the decisions they or their doctors made about gout treatment.

Alan believed that his GP might be worried about him taking ongoing preventative treatment for gout because he takes a number of different medications for his heart condition. A few people had checked with their GP or specialist that their gout medication was compatible with the medications they were taking for other conditions. Jill’s allopurinol dose has also been agreed between her renal consultant and her rheumatologist to make sure that it is suitable for her heart and kidney problems.

Jill feels that there is good communication between specialists about her different health problems, including gout.

Age at interview 53

Gender Female

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People with gout are at increased risk of heart problems such as heart attacks and angina. Jeff Z had to stop taking diclofenac after his heart attack because it is not recommended for people with heart problems. Alan was given conflicting information about whether he could take the tablets for his high cholesterol (statins) while he was taking colchicine. A few people were told that the diuretics (water tablets) they were taking might be causing their gout attacks.

John believed that there was some confusion about his symptoms and treatment when he went into hospital with severe pain from a gout attack, because he had also just had a stroke. Jean has two artificial big toe joints which caused confusion initially about whether it was possible for her to have gout.

It is thought that operations can sometimes trigger attacks of gout and a few people had attacks when they were in hospital for other conditions. Other people had operations and did not get attacks. A few people had conditions or treatments that made it more likely for them to get gout, such as kidney transplants. Some noticed that they were more likely to get attacks if they had a cold. (For more see ‘Causes of gout‘).

Shirley X had a gout attack when in hospital with a lung problem. She linked this to not being given her allopurinol tablets.

Age at interview 77

Gender Female

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Some people were worried about gout medication causing problems with other conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome. Paula could not take anti-inflammatories because of her kidney problems, so she was prescribed steroids instead. John’s priority was relieving the pain of gout, but his doctors were also concerned about his diabetes and sugar levels. Hazel’s decisions about treatment were partly influenced by the fact that she wants to start a family, and knows that many gout medications are unsuitable during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. Others had been given conflicting advice about diet for their different conditions. (For more see ‘Diet and self-management for gout‘).

Side effects of gout medication

There are two main types of treatments for gout - medications to treat the pain and inflammation caused by an attack, and treatments to prevent...

Everyday life with gout

Although attacks had a huge impact on the everyday lives of many people, a few people felt that gout had not affected their lives at...