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Gout

Gout

Definition

Gout occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joints. This causes the joints to be inflamed, causing pain.

Causes

Gout typically occurs if you have high levels of uric acid in your blood. A high level of uric acid in the blood is called hyperuricemia. However, you could also have normal uric levels and still have gout.

The uric acid can then form crystals in the joints causing the pain and inflammation.

The liver metabolizes uric acid, and the kidneys get rid of it through the urine. Levels of uric acid build up when:

  • Too much uric acid is produced
  • Not enough uric acid is eliminated

If you have gout and hyperuricemia, your body doesn’t eliminate enough uric acid.

Risk Factors

Gout is more common in men over the age of 30 years, but gout can occur in men and women at any age. Other factors that may increase your risk of gout include:

  • Obesity, sudden weight gain, or rapid weight loss
  • Family members with history of gout
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Certain medications, such as:
    • Low-dose aspirin
    • Diuretics
    • Cyclosporin, an antirejection drug
    • Chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer

Certain foods and beverages may also increase your chances of gout.

  • Foods high in purines, such as organ meats, shellfish, some vegetables, and gravies
  • High-fructose drinks, such as sugar-sweetened sodas and orange juice
  • Excess alcohol, especially beer

Symptoms

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A sample of fluid from the affected joint will be taken. This fluid will be tested for uric acid crystals.

Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

  • A sample of fluid taken from the affected joint
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests

Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI scan

Treatment

Treatment depends on whether the gout is acute or recurrent.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting gout:

  • Eat a low-purine diet.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Avoid binge drinking.
  • Drink a lot of fluids.
  • Lose weight gradually.
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