Conditions InDepth: Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis that results from the deposit and build-up of glass-like crystals of uric acid in your joints. Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of waste products in your body called purines. Normally, uric acid is broken down in the blood stream and then eliminated in the urine.

When the body increases its production of uric acid, or the kidneys remove less uric acid than normal, an excess of uric acid results. High levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia) may lead to gout, although most people with this condition will not develop the symptoms of gout. Conversely, people without hyperuricemia can develop gout.

It is estimated that over 2 million Americans have gout. A severe gout attack is extremely painful and, if left untreated, can cause permanent and severe joint damage. Fortunately, gout can be medically managed or controlled.

What are the risk factors for gout?
What are the symptoms of gout?
How is gout diagnosed?
What are the treatments for gout?
Are there screening tests for gout?
How can I reduce my risk of developing gout?
What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?
What is it like to live with gout?
Where can I get more information about gout?

References:

American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home.html .

American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/ .

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/ .

The Merck Manual of Medical Information. 17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.



Last reviewed May 2007 by Robert E. Leach, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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