Gout is an inflammatory type of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a chemical that can form needle-like hard crystal deposits in the joints. Uric acid is created when the body breaks down substances called purines, which are found in some foods and drinks including liver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas, and beer.

Gout is one of the most common forms of inflammatory arthritis, preferentially affecting middle-aged and older men and postmenopausal women. Gout can cause a sudden, severe attack of burning pain, stiffness, redness and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. Over time, this disease can harm the joints, tendons and other tissues. People with gout are at higher risk of hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and renal and heart disease; however, the good news is that it is one of the most treatable forms of arthritis.

Causes of Gout

Gout is caused by either increased uric acid production in the blood or because the kidneys cannot remove uric acid from the body. While some people experience flare-ups that don’t have a specific cause, it may also be triggered by diet and obesity.

Certain medications like aspirin and diuretics, which reduce the amount of water retained by the body, can increase uric acid in the blood.  Additional causes include surgery and having a major illness or medical condition like rapid weight loss and high blood pressure.

Historically it has been referred to as “the disease of kings” because of its association with rich foods and alcohol. The chances of getting gout are greater if you are male, overweight, and consume too much alcohol as well as the foods listed above.

Participate in Research

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is conducting an Internet survey with patients who have gout to help researchers better understand if personal diet and supplements improve symptoms. If you would like to learn more about this study, please visit UAB’s Internet Study.