Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis caused by high uric acid levels in the blood. Common symptoms include sudden attacks of redness and tenderness in the affected joints, typically the big toe. Other joints such as the knees, elbows, and fingers can also be affected. Uric acid is produced through the breakdown of purines which are found in some foods and drinks. If the uric acid levels become too high, crystals can form in the joints, causing inflammation and pain. Treatment typically involves anti-inflammatory medications and lifestyle changes such as reducing the intake of purine-rich foods and limiting alcohol consumption.


The most common symptom of gout is excruciatingly painful inflammation of the affected joint. This can often be accompanied by redness and swelling, as well as an increased sensitivity to pressure. People may also experience an intense burning sensation in the affected area, a fever, and a general feeling of sickness. In some cases, uric acid crystals can form in the joint and cause further complications.


The primary cause of gout is a buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream. Uric acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of purines, which are found in certain foods, such as red meats and some seafood. Other possible causes of gout include: excess alcohol intake, rapid weight gain, kidney or liver problems, certain medications, and preexisting health conditions such as hypothyroidism or diabetes.

Risk factors

Gout risk factors include:

  1. Gender: Men are more likely to develop gout than women.
  2. Age: Gout is more common in adults aged 40 and older.
  3. Diet: Eating food with a high content of purines, such as seafood, red meats and organ meats, can increase the risk of gout.
  4. Obesity: Being overweight increases your risk of gout.
  5. Excessive alcohol use: Drinking too much alcohol, especially beer, may increase the risk of gout.
  6. Medications: Taking medicines that interfere with the body’s ability to process uric acid can increase the risk of gout.
  7. Family history: Having a family member with gout increases the risk of developing gout.
  8. Kidney disease: Having kidney disease, or decreased kidney function, increases the risk of gout.
  9. High blood pressure: Hypertension can increase the risk of gout.
  10. 0. Dehydration: Not drinking enough fluids can increase the risk of gout.


Gout is typically diagnosed by a combination of a physical exam, a review of medical history, and lab tests. The physical exam will usually involve an examination of the affected joint, looking at the size, redness, and tenderness of the joint. History can also be helpful, as certain foods can increase the risk of a gout attack, such as organ meats, seafood, and certain alcoholic beverages. Lab tests are also necessary to diagnose gout, and often involve taking a sample of fluid from the affected joint and testing for uric acid crystals. Blood tests can also be used to measure uric acid levels in the blood.


Gout is classified into four distinct subtypes – Acute Gout, Chronic Gout, Intermittent Gout and Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia.

Acute Gout is the sudden onset of joint inflammation which results in severe pain, redness, swelling and joint immobility. It is caused by the build-up of uric acid in the bloodstream and is accompanied by fever and chills. The symptoms can last from a few days to several weeks and can be treated with medications.

Chronic Gout is a type of long-term gout, which is characterized by pain, swelling and inflammation of the joints, even when uric acid levels have returned to normal. This type of gout is usually caused by an accumulation of uric acid in the joints, which can be treated with medications and lifestyle changes.

Intermittent Gout is an episodic form of gout that is characterized by a series of flares and remissions. It is often caused by a temporary increase in uric acid levels and is usually treated with rest and pain relief medications.

Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia is a form of gout that is characterized by high uric acid levels, but the individual does not experience any symptoms. This form usually does not require any treatment and the elevated uric acid levels usually return to normal without any intervention.


The treatment options for gout include:

  1. Anti-inflammatory medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce swelling and pain.
  2. Corticosteroids: Intravenous or oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, can reduce swelling and pain.
  3. Colchicine: Colchicine is an anti-inflammatory medication that can help reduce the pain and swelling associated with gout.
  4. Xanthine oxidase inhibitors: These medications can help reduce the uric acid levels in the body, leading to less gout flares.
  5. Urate-lowering medications: These medications can help reduce uric acid levels, which can lead to fewer gout flares.
  6. Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove tophi, or crystallized uric acid deposits, that have built up in the joints.
  7. Diet and lifestyle changes: Eating a diet low in purine-rich foods, avoiding alcohol, and staying hydrated can help reduce the risk of gout and gout flares.


  1. Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight is a major risk factor for gout and can be avoided by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.
  2. Cut down on alcohol – Alcohol increases uric acid in the body, so limiting intake of beer, wine, and hard liquor can help reduce the risk of gout.
  3. Consume more low-fat dairy products – Dairy products that are low in fat, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, can help reduce uric acid levels in the body.
  4. Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated helps to flush uric acid out of the body, which can help reduce levels in the blood and reduce the risk of gout.
  5. Eat more fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that can help reduce uric acid levels in the body and reduce the risk of gout.
  6. Avoid purine-heavy foods – Foods that are high in purines, such as organ meats, shellfish, and legumes, can increase uric acid levels in the body and should be limited or avoided.

Gender differences?

Yes, there are gender-specific differences in the presentation and management of Gout. Men are much more likely to develop Gout than women, likely due to differences in hormones, body composition, and dietary habits. Men also experience more severe symptoms than women. Women tend to develop gout at an older age than men and are more likely to develop tophaceous gout, where gout crystals have built up in the joints and tendons. Women also have higher rates of cardiovascular risk factors and comorbidities associated with gout, such as hypertension and diabetes. In terms of management, women are often undertreated, due to a lack of awareness and research on gender-specific issues related to the disease. This can lead to poorer health outcomes for women with gout. Additionally, due to the hormonal changes that occur with menopause, women may need to adjust their gout treatment as their hormones change.


Nutrition plays an important role in the management of gout. Eating a healthy diet that is low in purines, the chemical compounds found in certain foods, can help reduce levels of uric acid in the body. High levels of uric acid can lead to gout attacks. Foods to avoid include foods high in purines such as red meat, organ meat, certain seafood, and certain types of alcohol. In addition, drinking plenty of water and eating foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals can help decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of further gout attacks. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important to maintaining overall health and preventing gout attacks.

Physical Activity

Physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing gout by decreasing uric acid levels in the blood. Regular physical activity can help lower uric acid levels by increasing the body’s metabolism and burning off excess uric acid. Additionally, physical activity can help strengthen the body’s immune system and reduce inflammation, which can reduce the symptoms of gout. Regular physical activity can also help maintain a healthy weight, which can reduce the body’s production of uric acid and help prevent gout attacks.

Further Reading

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK350132/
  2. https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-us/13/references
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/symptoms-causes/syc-20372897
  4. https://gouteducation.org/
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/all-about-gout

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