Gout

What is gout?

Gout
is a health problem that causes inflamed, painful joints. The symptoms are caused by
deposits of uric acid crystals at the joints. Gout used to be associated with kings who
overindulged in rich food and wine. In truth, anyone can get gout. Gout affects more men
than women. It is often linked with obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol , and
diabetes.

What causes gout?

Gout
is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints. This is from too much uric acid in
the body. Too much uric acid may be caused by several things. It may be caused by the
body making too much uric acid. Or the kidneys may not get rid of enough uric acid. It
may also be caused by eating a lot of foods that are high in purines. Purines turn into
uric acid in the body.

Foods high in purines include:

  • Alcoholic drinks and sugary drinks high in fructose
  • Certain meats, such as game meats, kidney, brains, and liver
  • Dried beans and dried peas
  • Seafood, such as anchovies, herring, scallops, sardines, and mackerel

Gout
attacks may be triggered by any of these:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating a lot of protein-rich foods
  • Emotional stress
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Illness
  • Minor surgery

Who is at risk for gout?

You are at higher risk for gout if you:

  • Are a man
  • Are a postmenopausal woman
  • Have kidney disease
  • Have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes
  • Have family members with gout

What are the symptoms of gout?

Gout
causes sudden attacks of symptoms that often occur without warning. The attacks happen
again and again. Severe, chronic gout may lead to deformity. Symptoms can occur a bit
differently in each person. Common symptoms include:

  • Hard
    lumps of uric acid crystal deposits under the skin (tophi)
  • Severe,
    sudden pain in one or more joints, often the joint in the big toe
  • Skin
    that is red or purple, tight, and shiny over the joint
  • Swollen
    joint or joints
  • Warmth
    in the joint area
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • General
    feeling of illness

Some symptoms of gout can be like other health conditions. Make sure to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is gout diagnosed?

The
process starts with a health history and a physical exam. Your healthcare provider may
take a fluid sample from the joint (arthrocentesis) and check it for uric acid
crystals.