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Gout – What is it?

Gout in shoulderGout is a form of arthritis caused by having to much uric acid in your body. This overload can lead to crystals of urate which find their way into the tissue of the body and in particular, the joints. Once these crystals settle in the joints, it may cause attacks of inflammation, or arthritis. Gout is described as a progressive and chronic disease of the joints. Bouts of chronic gout could lead to hard lumps of uric acid to build up in the tissues especially in the joints and could destroy joints, affect functions of the kidneys and cause kidney stones. Learn more about gout symptoms.

Gout is a disease that is documented to be one of most common forms of arthritis in history. Uric acid is a part of the foods we eat. The body handles uric acid in an abnormal way which causes very painful attacks, kidney stones and can lead to kidney failure. See more about diet by visiting gout treatment. In some people uric acids can be elevated but not cause symptoms to arise. This is called asymptomatic hyperuricemia which is a prelude to attacks. When deposits form in or around the joints, inflammation can occur. Painful joint inflammation happens when your immune system reacts to the acid crystals causing white blood cells to attach the crystals and chemicals release. This release causes heat, pain and irritation of the tissues around the joints. As it progresses, more joints in the body will become effected.

Gout – Who is affected?

Five million people in the U.S. suffer from acute gout. It is 9 times as common in men than women. Gout will usually occur in men post puberty and in women it usually occurs after menopause. A high blood level of uric acid could point to a risk of the disease however, any relationship to hyperuricemia – or elevated uric acid levels, is not known. Lots of people with hyperuricemia do not get gout and vice verse. During attacks, blood level of uric acid actually becomes lower. Of the males in the U.S. that suffer from this condition, ten percent have hyperuricemia and of those only a small percentage will develop gout.

Gout Myths and Facts

Below are some interesting myths and facts.

  • Gout will heal itself – False. Attacks will generally calm down without seeking treatment but you should be diagnosed as soon as any symptoms arise. The attacks will come back if you fail to treat them. There are medications available to help keep attacks under control.
  • Podagra is a term used when the big toe is involved.
  • Gout is a lesser form of arthritis – False. In fact, it is one of the more painful forms of arthritis. Some describe the pain as worse than a broken bone. If left untreated it can cause serious and even permanent joint damage as well as complications of the kidney.
  • Gout is a common condition – True. Gout is most common in senior citizens. Roughly 3 million adults are affected by the disease. This condition will usually affect men over forty and post menopausal women.
  • Gout only affects certain parts of the body – False. Joints are most prone to attacks but it can affect any joint in the body. The most common occurrence is in the big toe.
  • Gout can be cured – False. There is no cure. Some studies suggest certain foods can help gout attacks but nothing has been confirmed. you should consult a physician before self prescribing.