5 Facts About Goutby Allison Tsai Editor
Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid
Normally uric acid is dissolved in the blood and passed through the kidneys into urine. However, if there is an increase in uric acid or the kidneys can’t eliminate it from the body, a buildup occurs. This can lead to excess uric acid crystals accumulating in the joints, which causes pain and inflammation.
Gout typically affects the big toe
Gout initially causes pain in the joints in the big toe, but many other joints can also be affected. These include insteps, ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers and elbows. Chalky deposits of uric acid can also appear as lumps under the skin.
Gout can result in acute attacks
This can lead to sudden pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joint. These attacks commonly occur at night and can be triggered by stress. The attack will usually subside in three to 10 days even without treatment. It can be months or years between attacks.
Diet can contribute to gout
Along with family history, weight problems and excessive alcohol consumption, diet plays a role in causing gout. Eating too many foods rich in purines (which breaks down into uric acid) can cause the disorder. These foods include organs, anchovies, brains, dried beans and peas, game meats, gravy, mushrooms, mackerel, sardines and herring.
Medicine and lifestyle can help control gout
NSAIDs, corticosteroids and colchicine are all used to treat acute gout attacks. However, you can also prevent them by making lifestyle changes. Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body weight are important. If you need to lose weight, do so slowly, as fast or extreme weight loss can actually increase levels of uric acid in the blood.