What Is Gout?
Gout is a very painful form of arthritis. It occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the body. It is characterized by sudden, and severe attacks of pain accompanied by redness and tenderness in or around a joint. Quite often, Gout attacks the joint at the base of the big toe.
An acute gout attack can wake you up in the middle of the night feeling like your big toe is on fire. The affected joint is hot, swollen and may be so tender that even the weight of the sheet on it feels intolerable.
Fortunately, gout is treatable. You will find more information about measures you can take to reduce the risk of future gout attacks on our gout treatment page.
The symptoms of gout are usually sudden, often at night, and without warning. The symptoms include:
- Intense joint pain, inflammation and redness. Gout usually affects the large joint of your big toe. It may also occur in your ankles, knees, feet, hands and wrists. The pain is usually most severe in the first 12 to 24 hours.
- Persistent pain. After the most severe pain subsides, some joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks. Subsequent attacks may last longer and affect more joints.
- Kidney stones caused by uric acid crystals in the kidneys.
On our gout treatment page you will find information about diets, beneficial lifestyle changes and medical options for treating Gout.
What Causes Gout?
High levels of uric acid in your body increase the likelihood of developing gout. There is a list of common factors that increase uric acid levels below:
- A family history of gout.
- Use of alcohol. Excessive alcohol use, generally more than two drinks a day.
- Medical conditions. Certain diseases and medical conditions increase the risk of developing gout. These are diabetes, untreated high blood pressure, high levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood, and narrowing of the arteries (arteriosclerosis).
- Certain medications. The use of thiazide diuretics