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Gout is a medical condition affecting approximately 840 out of every 100,000 people. The disease occurs when uric acid builds up in the blood. Possible symptoms include a sudden onset of intense joint pain, stiffness in the joint, and redness and heat at the joint. Although there is no cure, the disease can be controlled with medicines and certain lifestyle changes.

What Is Gout?

Gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis. The term "arthritis" refers to more than 100 different rheumatic diseases that affect the joints, muscles, and bones, as well as other tissues and structures. Gout accounts for approximately 5 percent of all cases of arthritis.
 
The condition occurs in approximately 840 out of every 100,000 people. It is rare in children and young adults. Adult men, particularly those between the ages of 40 and 50, are more likely to develop it than women, who rarely develop the disorder before menopause. People who have had an organ transplant are more susceptible to it.
 

Understanding Uric Acid and Hyperuricemia

Uric acid is a substance that results from the breakdown of purines, which are part of all human tissue and are found in many foods. Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the blood and passed through the kidneys into the urine, where it is eliminated.
 
If the body increases its production of uric acid, or if the kidneys do not eliminate enough from the body, increased levels of uric acid build up in the blood. This condition is called hyperuricemia.
 
Hyperuricemia is not a disease and by itself is not dangerous. However, if excess uric acid crystals form as a result of hyperuricemia, gout can develop. This increased level of uric acid in the blood can also lead to:
 
  • Deposits of uric acid (called tophi) that look like lumps under the skin around the joints and at the rim of the ear
  • Kidney stones from uric acid crystals in the kidneys.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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