Understanding what is gout

Gout is a type of arthritis that can affect any person. Generally, it affects the big toe’s base joint and may appear as sudden and severe pain, redness and tenderness, and swelling. Symptoms may appear and disappear at the slightest trigger, but luckily, there are several ways to prevent flares and manage the symptoms.


Generally, the symptoms of this ailment occur in the middle of the night and include the following:

  • Severe joint pain
    Although gout generally affects the big toe joint, it may affect any other joint too. Some other affected parts may be wrists, ankles, fingers, elbows, and knees. Individuals usually suffer from severe pain between the first four and 12 hours of its onset.
  • Limited motion range
    As the disorder progresses, you may lose the normal motion in the affected joints.
  • Lingering discomfort
    Even after the severest pain passes away, you may feel the discomfort for several days or even weeks. Over a period, the attacks may affect more joints and result in increased discomfort.
  • Redness and inflammation
    The affected joints are often warm, swollen, red, and tender.


Initially, gout is the result of excessive uric acid in the blood, known as hyperuricemia. The higher levels result in the accumulation of urate crystals in the affected joints, which cause severe pain and inflammation.

The body produces uric acid when purines (substances that are naturally found in a human body) are broken down. Purines are also found in some foods, such as seafood, poultry, steak, and organ meats. Alcoholic beverages like beer and other drinks with a higher content of fructose (fruit sugar) also promote higher production of uric acid in the body.

Under normal conditions, the body passes the uric acid via urine through the kidneys. However, sometimes the body may produce an excessive amount of uric acid or the kidneys do not flush out a sufficient amount of the acid. When this occurs, the uric acid builds up and may form sharp urate crystals that are like needles in the joints and its surrounding tissue. This results in severe discomfort, inflammation, pain, and swelling.

Risk factors

Some risk factors that increase uric acid production include the following:

  • Eating habits
    A diet comprising huge quantities of meat and seafood and fructose-containing beverages increase the uric acid levels. Additionally, consuming alcoholic drinks like beer may also result in uric acid buildup, thereby causing this disorder.
  • Excess weight
    When a person is overweight, there is a higher turnover of body tissue, increasing uric acid production as metabolic waste. More body fat also increases systematic inflammation due to the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Obesity also makes it more difficult for the kidneys to flush out the excessive amount of uric acid.
  • Medical disorders
    Disorders like hypertension, metabolic syndrome, kidney and heart diseases, and diabetes increase the risk of this disorder.
  • Medicines
    Thiazide diuretics used to treat high blood pressure, and low-dose aspirin increase uric acid production. People who have undergone an organ transplant and take anti-rejection medicines are also at risk.
  • Age and gender
    Usually, men between 30 and 50 years may be affected by this disorder. Older women may also develop gout after menopause. Other factors, such as family history or trauma or surgery, also put a person at a higher risk.