Gout

(Arthritis, Gouty; Gouty Arthritis)

Definition

Gout occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joints. This causes the joints to be inflamed, causing pain.

Causes

Gout typically occurs if you have high levels of uric acid in your blood. A high level of uric acid in the blood is identified by the term hyperuricemia. However, you could also have normal uric levels and still have gout. The uric acid can then form crystals in the joints causing the pain and inflammation.The liver metabolizes uric acid, and the kidneys get rid of it through the urine. Levels of uric acid build up when:
  • Too much uric acid is produced
  • Not enough uric acid is eliminated
If you have gout and hyperuricemia, your body doesn't eliminate enough uric acid.

Risk Factors

Gout is more common in men over the age of 30 years, but gout can occur in men and women at any age. Other factors that may increase your risk of gout include:
  • Obesity , sudden weight gain, or rapid weight loss
  • Family members with history of gout
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Certain medications, such as:
    • Low-dose aspirin
    • Diuretics
    • Cyclosporin, an antirejection drug
    • Chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer
Certain foods and beverages may also increase your chances of gout.
  • Foods high in purines, such as organ meats, shellfish, some vegetables, and gravies
  • High-fructose drinks, such as sugar-sweetened sodas and orange juice
  • Excess alcohol , especially beer

Symptoms

Acute Gout

Symptoms may include:
  • Sudden onset of severe pain in an inflamed joint, usually starting in the big toe
  • Joints that are red, hot, swollen, and tender
  • Increased pain 24-48 hours after the onset of symptoms
Gout of the Big Toe
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Recurrent Gout

Most people with gout have another attack. This attack may affect many different joints. With recurrent gout, tophi can form. Tophi are chalky deposits of uric acid that commonly occur in the elbows and earlobes.Gout can also lead to other health problems, such as:

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