What is gout?
Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis that is very painful. It usually affects one joint at a time (often the big toe joint). There are times when symptoms get worse, known as flares, and times when there are no symptoms, known as remission. Repeated bouts of gout can lead to gouty arthritis, a worsening form of arthritis.
There is no cure for gout, but you can effectively treat and manage the condition with medication and self-management strategies.
What are the signs and symptoms of gout?
Gout flares start suddenly and can last days or weeks. These flares are followed by long periods of remission—weeks, months, or years—without symptoms before another flare begins. Gout usually occurs in only one joint at a time. It is often found in the big toe. Along with the big toe, joints that are commonly affected are the lesser toe joints, the ankle, and the knee.
Symptoms in the affected joint(s) may include:
- Pain, usually intense
What causes gout?
Gout is caused by a condition known as hyperuricemia, where there is too much uric acid in the body. The body makes uric acid when it breaks down purines, which are found in your body and the foods you eat. When there is too much uric acid in the body, uric acid crystals (monosodium urate) can build up in joints, fluids, and tissues within the body. Hyperuricemia does not always cause gout, and hyperuricemia without gout symptoms does not need to be treated.
What increases your chances for gout?
The following make it more likely that you will develop hyperuricemia, which causes gout:
- Being male
- Being obese
- Having certain health conditions, including:
- Congestive heart failure
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Insulin resistance
- Metabolic syndrome
- Poor kidney function
- Using certain medications, such as diuretics (water pills).
- Drinking alcohol. The risk of gout is greater as alcohol intake goes up.
- Eating or drinking food and drinks high in fructose (a type of sugar).
- Having a diet high in purines, which the body breaks down into uric acid. Purine-rich foods include red meat, organ meat, and some kinds of seafood, such as anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, and tuna. Read More