Gout is a common and complex form of arthritis
that can affect anyone. It's characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain
, redness and tenderness in the joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe.
You're more likely to develop gout if you have high levels of uric acid in your body. Factors that increase the uric acid level in your body include:
Diet. Eating a diet
rich in meat
and seafood and drinking beverages sweetened with fruit sugar
(fructose) increase levels of uric acid, which increase your risk of gout. Alcohol consumption, especially of beer
, also increases the risk of gout.
Obesity. If you're overweight, your body produces more uric acid and your kidneys have a more difficult time eliminating uric acid.
Medical conditions. Certain diseases and conditions increase your risk of gout. These include untreated high blood pressure
and chronic conditions such as diabetes
, metabolic syndrome, and heart and kidney diseases.
Certain medications. The use of thiazide
diuretics — commonly used to treat hypertension
— and low-dose aspirin
also can increase uric acid levels. So can the use of anti-rejection drugs prescribed for people who have undergone an organ transplant.
Family history of gout. If other members of your family have had gout, you're more likely to develop the disease.
Age and sex. Gout occurs more often in men, primarily because women tend to have lower uric acid levels. After menopause
, however, women's uric acid levels approach those of men. Men are also more likely to develop gout earlier — usually between the ages of 30 and 50 — whereas women generally develop signs and symptoms after menopause.
or trauma. Experiencing recent surgery or trauma has been associated with an increased risk of developing a gout attack.
Treatment for gout usually involves medications. What medications you and your doctor choose will be based on your current health and your own preferences.
Gout medications can be used to treat acute attacks and prevent future attacks. Medications can also reduce your risk of complications from gout, such as the development of tophi from urate