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What is gout?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Gout is a form of arthritis, also known as acute gouty arthritis, that causes painful swelling of the joints. Gout often first occurs in the feet, particularly in the big toes. Like other forms of arthritis, chronic attacks can grow progressively worse and affect joints in the ankles, heels, knees, elbows, fingers, and wrists. Gout often occurs in middle age and later stages of life. Symptoms can be managed with medications.

Gout, also called gouty arthritis, is a condition where a chronically-elevated uric acid in a genetically predisposed patient supersaturates urate, leading to the development of crystals that are deposited in joints, soft tissues, tendons, or virtually anywhere. This can also occur in the kidneys. Generally gout is a clinical disease with chronic arthritic symptoms starting after puberty in men and after menopause in women.
Gout is a painful disease that occurs when uric acid, a normal waste product, builds up in the blood and forms crystals in the joints or kidneys.

Uric acid normally dissolves in the blood, processes through the kidneys and leaves the body in the urine. If the body makes extra uric acid, or if the kidneys cannot clear enough of it, then uric acid levels in the blood will become too high, a condition known as hyperuricemia.

Hyperuricemia is not a disease and may not cause problems, but if it continues for a long time and conditions in the body are right, crystals may form and cause gout. Most experts recommend that uric acid levels stay below 6.0 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) in order to prevent gout attacks.

Continue Learning about Gout

Who is affected by gout?
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.