What About Gout
- What Causes Gout?
- How Is Gout Diagnosed?
- How Is Gout Treated?
- What Can People With Gout Do to Stay Healthy?
- Home Remedy
What Is Gout?
Gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis. It occurs when too much uric
acid builds up in the body. The buildup of uric acid can lead to:
- Sharp uric acid crystal deposits in joints, often in the big toe
- Deposits of uric acid (called tophi) that look like lumps under the
- Kidney stones from uric acid crystals in the kidneys.
For many people, the first attack of gout occurs in the big toe. Often, the attack
wakes a person from sleep. The toe is very sore, red, warm, and swollen.
Gout can cause:
- Stiffness in joints.
In addition to the big toe, gout can affect the:
A gout attack can be brought on by stressful events, alcohol or drugs, or another
illness. Early attacks usually get better within 3 to 10 days, even without treatment. The next attack may not
occur for months or even years.
What Causes Gout?
Gout is caused by the buildup of too much uric acid in the body. Uric acid comes
from the breakdown of substances called purines. Purines are found in all of your body’s tissues. They are also in
many foods, such as liver, dried beans and peas, and anchovies.
Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood. It passes through the kidneys and out
of the body in urine. But uric acid can build up in the blood when:
- The body increases the amount of uric acid it makes.
- The kidneys do not get rid of enough uric acid.
- A person eats too many foods high in purines.
When uric acid levels in the blood are high, it is called hyperuricemia. Most
people with hyperuricemia do not develop gout. But if excess uric acid crystals form in the body, gout can
You are more likely to have gout if you:
- Have family members with the disease
- Are a man
- Are overweight
- Drink too much alcohol
- Eat too many foods rich in purines
- Have an enzyme defect that makes it hard for the body to break down
- Are exposed to lead in the environment
- Have had an organ transplant
- Use some medicines such as diuretics, aspirin, cyclosporine, or
- Take the vitamin niacin.
How Is Gout Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and family history of
gout. Signs and symptoms of gout include:
- Hyperuricemia (high level of uric acid in the blood)
- Uric acid crystals in joint fluid
- More than one attack of acute arthritis
- Arthritis that develops in 1 day, producing a swollen, red, and warm
- Attack of arthritis in only one joint, usually the toe, ankle, or
To confirm a diagnosis of gout, your doctor may draw a sample of fluid from an
inflamed joint to look for crystals associated with gout.
How Is Gout Treated?
Doctors use medicines to treat an acute attack of gout, including:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
- Colchicine, which works best when taken within the first 12 hours of an acute
Sometimes doctors prescribe NSAIDs or colchicine in small daily doses to prevent
future attacks. There are also medicines that lower the level of uric acid in the blood.
What Can People With Gout Do to Stay Healthy?
Some things that you can do to stay healthy are:
- Take the medicines your doctor prescribes as directed.
- Tell your doctor about all the medicines and vitamins you take.
- Plan followup visits with your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid foods that are high in purines, and
drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight. Ask your doctor about
how to lose weight safely. Fast or extreme weight loss can increase uric acid levels in the blood.
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