Gout is misunderstood by many. So, what is it? If you've been diagnosed with gout, you know that it's very real. Notables such as King Henry VIII of England and Benjamin Franklin reportedly suffered from gout, and today, gout affects approximately 8 million Americans. We talked to gout expert Brian Mandell, M.D., Merck Manuals author and professor, and chairman of Academic Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, to get answers to the most-asked questions about gout. Here’s what he had to say.