Gout is caused by the buildup of too much uric acid in the body. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of substances called purines. Purines are found in all of your body’s tissues. They are also in many foods, such as liver, dried beans and peas, and anchovies. Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood. It passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine. But uric acid can build up in the blood when:
The body increases the amount of uric acid it makes.
The kidneys do not get rid of enough uric acid.
A person eats too many foods high in purines.
When uric acid levels in the blood are high, it is called hyperuricemia. Most people with hyperuricemia do not develop gout. But if excess uric acid crystals form in the body, gout can develop.
You are more likely to have gout if you: Have family members with the disease
Are a man
Drink too much alcohol
Eat too many foods rich in purines
Have an enzyme defect that makes it hard for the body to break down purines
Are exposed to lead in the environment
Have had an organ transplant
Use some medicines such as diuretics, aspirin, cyclosporine, or levodopa
Take the vitamin niacin.
How Is Gout Diagnosed?
Your symptoms, medical history, and family history of gout. Signs and symptoms of gout include:
Hyperuricemia (high level of uric acid in the blood)
Uric acid crystals in joint fluid
More than one attack of acute arthritis
Arthritis that develops in 1 day, producing a swollen, red, and warm joint
Attack of arthritis in only one joint, usually the toe, ankle, or knee.
To confirm a diagnosis of gout. Your doctor could take a sample of fluid from an inflamed joint to look for crystals associated with gout.
How Is Gout Treated?
Medicines used to treat an acute attack of gout, include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
Colchicine, which works best when taken within the first 12 hours of an acute attack.
Sometimes NSAIDs or colchicine medication is prescribed in small daily doses to prevent future attacks. There are also medicines that lower the level of uric acid in the blood.
Video overview on Gout.