Gout is an inflammatory disease caused by uric acid crystals being deposited in the joints. The affected joints will be swollen, hot, red, and very painful.
There are two main causes:
1.) Eating foods with too much uric acid
2.) Urinating out uric acid too slowly
Certain foods are very high in uric acid, including beer, liquor, shrimp, seafood, and steak. When people drink a lot of beer or eat too much at a buffet, the body must digest all of the extra uric acid and excrete it in the urine.
Sometimes the body can’t keep up with digesting the uric acid in the blood. Within a few hours, uric acid crystals will form. These crystals are pulled by gravity down to the knee, ankle, or toe. This is when the severe pain develops. People can also have attacks in the wrist or elbow.
The patient might confuse a gout attack with an ankle sprain or a broken bone. Advil and Tylenol won’t help, so the patient usually comes in to the see the doctor. X-rays will appear normal because the bone is not directly affected.
Gout is an ancient disease that was first described in ancient Greece. It is becoming more common in America younger and younger people being diagnosed with it.
About 1% of all Americans will have at least 1 gout attack. That represents over 3 million people. Men are four times as likely to have women to have gout.
There are different medications for treating gout, including colchicine, indomethacin, prednisone, and painkillers.
There is no permanent cure for gout. Flare-ups can happen at random times, but avoiding foods that cause an increase in uric acid will help prevent gout attacks in the future. Talk with your doctor for more information.
Reviewed by Muhammad Emran, MD