Carole chose to manage her gout for about 10 years by monitoring her diet, and took naproxen when she had an attack. In 2012, she decided to try preventative medication, and now takes 300mg allopurinol every day.
Carole was in her early 50s when she suddenly woke up in the night with severe pain in one of her big toes. Her GP sent her to the hospital where they said she had got gout. Carole had heard of gout, but she did not know much about it, or know that it was a form of arthritis. She thought that possibly it was to do with older men who liked drinking alcohol. Carole was not prescribed any medication at the hospital but she was advised to visit her GP.
Carole does not like taking tablets so she wanted to try and avoid long-term medication. She asked her GP if she could try and control her gout by watching what she ate. Her GP agreed that Carole could do what she was comfortable with. She was later prescribed naproxen to deal with the attacks as and when they occurred.
Carole believes that watching her diet worked reasonably well for a period of time. It did not stop her from having attacks, and the attacks did have an impact on her life, but she felt that she was in control. However, after about 10 years, Carole’s flare ups became more frequent.
When Carole got an attack, the pain was excruciating. She often could not walk or drive the car, and occasionally she was not able to go to work. She found it very wearing because she could not sleep or have the bedclothes on the affected joint because of the pain. Carole enjoys competing in agility competitions with her dogs, and when she had attacks, she could not pursue that hobby until the pain had gone.
As the years went by, Carole believed that she got better at recognising that she was going to have a flare up and starting her anti-inflammatories quickly. Nonetheless, she came round to thinking that she needed to do something more about her gout than simply trying to manage her diet and dealing with episodes when they occurred.
Carole went to see her doctor last year, and agreed to start on a low dose of allopurinol. She did not see her regular doctor, and the doctor she saw told her that she had chronic kidney disease. Carole was already aware that her kidney function was just under the normal range and had discussed this with the doctor she usually saw. However, on this occasion, the test showed that her kidney function was much lower so the doctor would not prescribe anti-inflammatories for Carole to take when she started the allopurinol. Carole ended up with gout in five different joints in her body at the same time. She was eventually allowed to have the anti-inflammatories, but was very upset by the experience. Carole’s recent tests show that her kidney function has returned to the level it was previously (just under the normal range).
After she started on allopurinol, Carole was still getting attacks so her GP upped her dose from 200mg to 300mg. She had a blood test 6 weeks later and was told that her uric acid levels were now within the target range, and lower than before she started taking the allopurinol. She has not had an attack since. Carole feels positive about the future, but looking back, she believes that maybe she should have started taking allopurinol sooner.