Comprehensive Information On Gout

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Gout can be described as a complex disease that is characterized by severe and sudden bouts of pain as well as redness, swelling and tenderness in the joints. It is one of the most common types of arthritis, mainly affecting the joints in the leg. Gout pain is usually the most severe in the joints at the base of the big toe. In case you have gout, you may not experience joint pain at all times. The symptoms of gout are usually evident during a flare-up or an attack. A flare-up can cause gout patients to wake up in the middle of the night, because of the pain and burning sensation in their big toes. The affected joint may also seem swollen and will be hot to the touch. Even the slightest amount of weight applied to the big toe at this time may seem intolerable.

Gout occurs when the uric acid in your body exceeds normal levels. The excessive uric acid forms crystals and gathers between the joints, which is the reason you experience severe pain. The levels of uric acid in the body could rise because of a diet that contains a high amount of purine-rich foods. Some of the foods that can lead to gout include meat, meat products and organs, alcohol, mushrooms, spinach and asparagus. Alternately, you may be suffering from a condition that keeps your body from eliminating uric acid effectively. Some of the other factors that increase the risks of suffering from gout include obesity and lack of exercise.

Gout was once regarded as the king of diseases, as it used to affect mainly those who lead a lavish lifestyle. However, people all over the world today follow an unhealthy diet and lead a sedentary lifestyle, which is why just about anyone can suffer from gout.

Though anyone can develop this condition, it is more common in men than it is in women. The chances of developing gout in women increase, when they reach menopause.

Fortunately, unlike most of the other types of arthritis, gout can be treated to a great extent. There are also ways in which the risks of gout-recurrence can be minimized.


Gout occurs when crystallized uric acid gets accumulated in the space between the joints. Uric acid is a byproduct of purines, a substance present in many food items. Under normal circumstances, uric acid gets eliminated from the body, through the kidney and the urine. However, there could be certain factors that could either cause your body to produce an excess amount of uric acid or prevent the kidneys from eliminating the uric acid effectively. Given below are some of the possible gout causes:

  • Family history: It is believed that this condition runs in families. Having a family member who suffers from gout can increase your risks of developing this problem by up to 20%.
  • Diet: The diet you follow plays a very important role in the development of the condition. People who eat a high amount of meat, seafood, meat organs, beans, mushrooms and yeast have increased susceptibility towards gout. People who drink alcohol regularly could also suffer from gout.
  • Lack of water: Water helps get rid of toxins and the excess water material in your body. You can get rid of a high level of uric acid in the body by consuming a higher amount of water. However, in case you drink less than 8 glasses of water a day, you are at a higher risk of suffering from this disease. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of high uric acid.
  • Medications: It has been seen that the use of certain medication can interfere with the body's ability to remove uric acid, thereby causing their levels to go very high. This mainly applies to nicotinic acid, diuretics and anti-hypersensitivity medication.

Therefore, in case you are taking any drugs on a regular basis, it is important to let your doctor know.

There are certain gender-specific factors that increase your susceptibility towards gout. This is because uric acid levels tend to go high in men during puberty and in women, during menopause.


Gout symptoms are always acute, which means that they occur suddenly, without any warning. In fact, most of the gout symptoms in adults are experienced in the night, while sleeping. Given below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of gout:

  • Pain: One of the main characteristics of this condition is intense joint pain, usually felt in the big toe. However, at times you may also feel the pain in your ankles, feet and knees. This pain is not only severe, but it lasts for around 12 to 24 hours after it starts.
  • Prolonged discomfort: You may experience lingering joint aches and discomfort, even after the worst of the pain subsides. For some patients the after-effects of the pain can go on for days or even weeks. Subsequent attacks usually last longer and are a lot more severe.
  • Inflammation: The joints that are affected become inflamed, which is why they appear swollen and red. When touched, the area feels hot and tender.

In some rare instances, a gout flare up could be accompanied by fever. This could be a sign of an infection and therefore, should be checked by a doctor as soon as possible. Gout symptoms can worsen rapidly, if they are not treated in time.

Gout symptoms in women

Unfortunately, gout is often misdiagnosed in women, which could be because its symptoms are slightly different, in women. Gout pain in women is less intense and more diffuse. Moreover, women can suffer from gout for years, without experiencing a single episode of a flare-up.

Gout symptoms in children

Gout can affect children and teenagers too, though the numbers of reported cases are few. Unfortunately, kids who have been affected by gout may experience the same pain and discomfort that the adults do. This condition can cause a child to wake up in the middle of the night, screaming in pain. Children suffering from this condition also have to be very careful while engaging in sports or other types of physical activities.


Most doctors prescribe medications as a part of gout treatment. Some of the drugs that can help alleviate the condition, reduce uric acid and prevent flare-ups in the future include:

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Colchicine
  • Probenecid
  • Xanthine oxidase inhibitors

Unfortunately, there are several side effects that have been associated with gout medications, some of which include a skin rash, tummy pain and kidney stones. This is why many people prefer to treat gout naturally, using home remedies and self care techniques.

When it comes to prevention of gout flare-ups, the diet you follow plays a very important role. While some foods aggravate the condition, there are others that help. Given below are some of the most highly recommended food items that should be included in a gout diet:

  • Cereals
  • Cheese
  • Cherries & cherry juice
  • Low fat dairy products, such as skim milk, plain yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Nuts
  • Raw or steamed vegetables (except potatoes and corn)
  • Rice
  • Seeds
  • Strawberries

Other lifestyle changes that can be helpful in the prevention and treatment of gout include:

  • Getting an adequate amount of rest and exercise each day.
  • Use of herbs like celery seeds, alfalfa and devil's claw.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight at all times.
  • Application of heat and cold therapy.
  • Keeping the swollen joint elevated as often as possible.
  • Quitting unhealthy practices like smoking.