Gout is a type of arthritis that results from the deposit and build-up of glass-like crystals of uric acid in your joints. Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of waste products in your body called purines. Normally, uric acid is broken down in the blood stream and then eliminated in the urine.
When the body increases its production of uric acid, or the kidneys remove less uric acid than normal, an excess of uric acid results. High levels of uric acid in the blood, called hyperuricemia, may lead to gout. However, most people with high uric acid levels will not develop the symptoms of gout. Conversely, people without hyperuricemia can develop gout.
It is estimated that over 3 million Americans have gout. A severe gout attack is extremely painful and, if left untreated, can cause permanent and severe joint damage. Fortunately, gout can be medically managed or controlled.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.