Gout (Gouty Arthritis)

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Gout facts

  • Gout is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation, usually in one joint, that begins suddenly.
  • Gouty arthritis is caused by the deposition of crystals of uric acid in a joint.
  • Gout can cause nodules under the skin; these nodules are known as tophi.
  • The most reliable method to diagnose gout is to have fluid removed from an inflamed joint and examined under a microscope for uric acid crystals.
  • Chronic gout is treated using medications that lower the uric acid level in the body.
  • Left untreated, gout can cause irreversible joint damage, kidney problems, and deposits of uric acid in the tissues (tophi).
  • Triggers for gout attacks include surgery, dehydration, beverages sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, beer, liquor, red meat, and seafood.
  • Cherries may help prevent gout attacks.

What is gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis. Gout causes sudden joint inflammation, usually in one joint. Severe gout can sometimes affect many joints at once. This is known as polyarticular gout.

What causes gout?

Gout is caused by the accumulation in the joint of crystals of a byproduct chemical of metabolism known as uric acid. When uric acid crystals accumulate, it causes inflammation in a joint. Joint inflammation causes pain, redness, heat, and swelling of the joint.

An elevated uric acid level in the bloodstream leads to uric acid accumulation in the tissues of a joint. Uric acid is normally found in the body and is a normal byproduct of the way the body breaks down certain proteins called purines. Causes of an elevated uric acid level (hyperuricemia) in the bloodstream include genetics, obesity, certain medications such as diuretics (water pills), and chronic decreased kidney function.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/3/2013

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Read about the gout diet.

Gout Diet

The primary dietary goal for gout is to limit your intake of foods with high amounts of purinein them. Ideally, you will have little or no foods that are high in purine and only small amounts of those with moderate amounts of purine.