What is gout?
Gout can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. These attacks can happen over and over unless gout is treated, your uric acid controlled. Over time, they can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout is most common in men.
What causes gout?
Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia). But sometimes when uric acid levels in the blood are too high, uric acid forms crystals that build up in the joints. The crystals can cause a gout attack. A gout attack typically causes pain, swelling, redness, and warmth (inflammation) in a single joint, most often the big toe.
Your chances of getting gout are higher if you are overweight, drink too much alcohol, or eat too much red or pigmented meat and fish that are high in purines.
What are the symptoms?
The most common sign of gout is an attack of swelling, tenderness, redness, and sharp pain in your big toe. You can also get gout attacks in your foot, ankle, or knees, or other joints. The attacks can last a few days or many weeks before the pain goes away. Another attack may not happen for months or years.
See your doctor even if your pain from gout is gone. The buildup of uric acid that led to your gout attack can still harm your joints.
How is gout diagnosed?
A blood test is needed to measure the amount of uric acid in your blood.
How is it treated?
To stop a gout attack, the doctor can give you an anti-inflammatory injection. Relief from a gout attack often begins within 24 hours if you start treatment right away.
What can I do to prevent another gout attack?
To prevent future attacks, your doctor can prescribe a medicine to reduce the buildup of the uric acid in your blood.
Paying attention to what you eat may help you manage your gout. Eat moderate amounts of a healthy mix of foods to control your weight and get the nutrients you need. Limit daily intake of meat, seafood, and alcohol (especially beer). Drink plenty of water and other fluids.