Gout is an inflammatory arthritis caused by uric acid crystals in and around joints. Raised uric acid levels are the main risk factor for this, and are usually caused by one or more from the following list:
- Kidney impairment
- Medicines such as diuretics and long term aspirin
- High alcohol consumption (particularly beer)
- Family history of gout
- Excessive fructose consumption (for example in fruit juice)
Gout is more common in men than women (gout is extremely rare in pre-menopausal women).
Gout can cause acutely painful attacks that resolve within 1-2 weeks. The commonest joints involved (in order of frequency) are the big toe, other joints within the feet, ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and hands, Treatment of these acute attacks is with anti-inflammatory medicines.
Gout can be a longer term problem causing joint damage, uric acid collection in soft tissues (tophi) and kidney damage.
Treatment is aimed at controlling inflammation and reducing blood uric acid levels.