Gout: Overview, Causes


Gout is a kind of arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in the joints.

* Acute gout is a painful condition that typically affects one joint.
* Chronic gout is repeated episodes of pain and inflammation, which may involve more than one joint.

Alternate Names : Gouty arthritis – acute, Gout – acute, Hyperuricemia, Tophaceous gout, Tophi, Podagra, Gout – chronic, Chronic gout, Acute gout, Acute gouty arthritis

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Gout is caused by having higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in your body. Your body may make too much uric acid, or have a hard time getting rid of uric acid. If too much uric acid builds up in the fluid around the joints (synovial fluid), uric acid crystals form. These crystals cause the joint to swell up and become inflamed.

Not everyone with high uric acid levels in the blood has gout.

The exact cause is unknown. Gout may run in families. It is more common in males, postmenopausal women, and people who drink alcohol. People who take certain medicines, such as hydrochlorothiazide and other water pills, may have higher levels of uric acid in the blood.

The condition may also develop in people with:

* Diabetes
* Kidney disease
* Obesity
* Sickle cell anemia and other hemolytic anemias
* Leukemia and similar types of disorders

The condition may occur after taking medicines that interfere with the removal of uric acid from the body.

Pictures & Images

Uric acid crystals

These spiked rods are uric acid crystals photographed under polarized light. Increased uric acid blood levels and formation of uric acid crystals in the joints are associated with gout.

Review Date : 6/17/2009
Reviewed By : Mark James Borigini, MD, Rheumatologist in the Washington, DC Metro area. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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