What causes gout?

Uric acid is a waste product that your body produces to break down cells called purines. Your kidneys usually get rid of uric acid when you pass urine. If you produce too much uric acid or if your kidneys cannot eliminate enough uric acid when you urinate, you may experience the symptoms of gout.

It is important to note: not all patients who have a uric acid imbalance experience gout. Factors that might influence your risk of developing gout include:

  • Age
  • Gender - men tend to develop gout more than women
  • A family history of gout
  • Obesity
  • Diet - too much purine-rich food or drink such as liver, offal, sardines, beer, spirits
  • Long term medication - diuretics, aspirin
  • Medical conditions - high blood pressure, kidney problems

What are the symptoms of gout?

Symptoms of gout most commonly appear in the big toe - but they can affect any joint in your body. Typically the area around the joint is extremely swollen and painful. The skin can be very red and raised. As the attack wears off the skin may become itchy or flake.

Most people experience reoccurring gout attacks. Left untreated gout can cause increased pain and joint damage as well as kidney stones.