Causes of Gout
The underlying cause of gout is having high levels of uric acid, a metabolic condition known as hyperuricemia. People with high uric acid are at greater risk for having gout attacks; however, many people with high uric acid may never develop gout.
Uric acid is produced naturally in the body but also comes from foods rich in purines and alcoholic and sweetened beverages. In most people, excess uric acid is eliminated in the urine or passes in stools. But some people overproduce uric acid, and/or their kidneys are unable to get rid of the uric acid, which builds up in the blood. Uric acid in the blood settles in the joints or soft tissue and may form crystals, which can cause inflammation, redness, warmth, swelling and pain.
King Henry VIII and Benjamin Franklin Both Had GoutGout has been referred to as the "disease of kings." That's because royalty and other wealthy people tended to eat rich, heavy meals. Today, gout affects more than 6 million Americans.
Other factors can also put people at high risk for gout, including inherited traits, obesity, high blood pressure and reduced kidney function.
Medications that interfere with the kidneys' ability to excrete uric acid can cause gout. Examples include diuretics (sometimes called "water pills"), cyclosporine and low-dose aspirin.
Symptoms and Triggers of a Gout Attack?
Before a gout attack, people may have no symptoms. Gout attacks usually happen very quickly, often at night. When uric acid levels increase to higher than normal, and urate crystals begin to develop in the joints, the symptoms of a gout attack become evident and are often characterized by intense pain, redness, swelling and heat in the affected area.
Potential triggers of a gout attack include:
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For more information on the causes of gout, click here.