April 01, 2017

Gout

A painful form of arthritis

Gout

Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden, severe attacks of pain, tenderness, redness, warmth and swelling in joints. It usually affects one joint at a time — typically the large joint of the big toe — and often at night. You may go to bed feeling fine, but then wake up in the middle of the night feeling like your big toe is on fire. The pain is so bad that you can't even have a bed sheet covering it. Gout can also affect your ankles, knees, hands and wrists.

Some people have just one attack of gout and never have another. Others have recurring attacks and may be at risk of additional problems. Medications and lifestyle changes can usually reduce or eliminate the attacks.

Diet is only one factor

Gout is caused by excess uric acid in the blood and tissues. Uric acid is a waste product that results from the breakdown of purines. The main source of uric acid is the breakdown of your body's naturally occurring purines. But purines may also come from your diet.

Gout was once known as the disease of kings because of its association with a diet rich in meat, seafood and alcohol — foods high in purines. However, anyone can get gout, and diet is only one factor. Why some people develop gout and others don't is unclear, but its prevalence has been increasing over the last few decades, affecting more than 8 million Americans. The rise of conditions...