Gout is a type of arthritis that results from the deposit and build-up of glass-like crystals of uric acid in your joints. Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of waste products in your body called purines. Normally, uric acid is broken down in the blood stream and then eliminated in the urine.
When the body increases its production of uric acid, or the kidneys remove less uric acid than normal, an excess of uric acid results. High levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia) may lead to gout, although most people with this condition will not develop the symptoms of gout. Conversely, people without hyperuricemia can develop gout.
It is estimated that over 2 million Americans have gout. A severe gout attack is extremely painful and, if left untreated, can cause permanent...
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop gout with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing gout. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Risk factors for gout include:
Age and Gender
Although gout can occur in men and women of any age, it most often occurs in men over age 40. Gout usually does not affect women until after menopause.
Lifestyle factors that increase the risk of gout include:
- Being overweight
- Eating a diet that includes foods high in purines. For a list of foods, see Reducing your Risk of Gout...
The symptoms of gout usually come on suddenly and severely. A gout attack usually affects only one joint, most commonly, the joint of the big toe. However, the attack may involve more than one joint. Symptoms frequently develop overnight and worsen over the next 24 to 36 hours. Other affected joints include the knees, ankles, feet, wrists, hands, fingers, and elbows.
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Symptoms in the joint affected usually include:
- Severe pain
- Extreme tenderness
Other symptoms may include:
- Overall sick feeling
Symptoms are usually more severe in people who develop gout before age 30. Some people will only suffer one gout attack. Most people with gout, however, will suffer a recurrence within two...
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Gout can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms are often similar to those of other conditions. If gout is suspected, tests may include:
Arthrocentesis (Joint Aspiration)—A needle is inserted into a joint and fluid is withdrawn with a syringe. This is usually performed using local anesthesia. The fluid is then checked under a microscope for uric acid crystals and signs of inflammation. In nearly all cases of gout, uric acid crystals are present.
Blood and Urine Tests—These tests assess kidney function and measure the amount of uric acid in your blood and urine. However, uric acid levels can often be normal during a gout attack. Other blood tests check for white blood cell count and...
There are a number of measures that will help prevent gout from developing or prevent recurrence of gout attacks.
- Avoid foods high in purines.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Lose weight (if necessary) and maintain an appropriate weight.
Avoid Food High in Purines
Gout pain is caused by glass-like crystals of uric acid that build-up in your joints. Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of waste products called purines. Therefore, one of the main treatments for gout is to avoid foods and beverages that are high in purines. These include:
Organ meats, such as:
- Fish roe
Legumes, such as:
- Dried beans
- Peas *...
PO Box 7669
Atlanta, GA 30357-0669
1-800-283-7800 (for information and materials)
Description of services provided:
This is the main voluntary organization devoted to arthritis. The foundation publishes free pamphlets on many types of arthritis and a monthly magazine that provides up-to-date information on arthritis. In addition, the foundation provides physician and clinic referrals.
National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NAMSIC)
C/O National Institutes of Health
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892–3675
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