Gout usually begins with an acute attack of pain, inflammation, extreme tenderness, and redness in the affected joint—often the big toe and sometimes the ankle or knee. After repeated attacks the disease can cause the deposition of sodium urate crystals in the tissues about the joints, causing stiffness and deformity. The aim of treatment is to minimize the formation of uric acid crystals. A high liquid intake that increases daily urine output is usually recommended. An acute attack of gout is usually treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as indomethecine or naproxen, or the corticosteroid prednisone. Colchicine, a preparation of the meadow saffron, used since 1763 for gout, is still used when symptoms are not controlled by other drugs. Allopurinol and other xanthine oxidase inhibitors are used to prevent gout attacks in patients with chronically elevated uric acid levels; they lower uric acid concentrations in the blood by inhibiting the conversion of xanthine to uric acid.
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