What is Gout?

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Gout is a condition affecting the joints which can cause pain, swelling, and redness. It can come on very suddenly and can be a condition that comes and goes, sometimes lasting for a few weeks at a time. It can affect just one joint (doctors call this monoarticular gout), but sometimes a number of joints can be involved (called polyarticular gout). Common joints affected are the joint at the bottom of the big toe, also small joints in the middle of the foot, ankle joint knee joint elbow joint finger joints, and wrist joint. What causes gout? Gout is caused by crystals that are formed from a substance called uric acid. Uric acid (or urate) is formed by the breakdown of certain food types in the body. It is present in everyone’s blood but if the levels become too high crystals can form in the joint causing pain and inflammation. Some people with gout also have lumps of urate visible under the skin (called tophi). Treatments are aimed at reducing the level of urate in the blood so that attacks of gout are less likely to happen. Gout is a common condition. It more commonly affects men than women. If you have symptoms you need to see your G.P.