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What is Gout?

What is Gout?
What is Gout?
Causes and Risk Factors

Gout has the unique distinction of being one of the most frequently recorded medical conditions throughout history and is sometimes considered a 'rich man's' disease because it is often associated with the intake of too much rich food and alcohol. But what is gout? What causes gout? And what are some of the risk factors that might lead to the development of gout?

What is gout?
Gout occurs when there are abnormal, elevated levels of uric acid in the blood and tissues. When uric acid accumulates in the blood and tissues, it can crystallize in a joint, forming tiny, jagged, needle-shaped crystals. Urid acid crystals then trigger an intense inflammatory response and a reaction from the immune system that causes a painful arthritis condition called a gout attack. Gout commonly affects the big toe, but other joints or surrounding tissues of the instep, ankle, knee, wrist, elbow and fingers can also be affected.

Stages of gout
Gout is classified as either primary or secondary, depending on the cause of high levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia). Staging and classifying gout are important aspects of diagnosis, as treatment will follow.  The stages of gout include: 

  1. Acute flare ups occur when urate crystals in the joint(s) cause acute inflammation. A gout flare is characterized by pain, redness, swelling, and warmth lasting days to weeks. Pain may be mild or excruciating. Most initial attacks occur in the lower extremities, such as the metatarsophalageal joint of the big toe. Uric acid levels may be normal in about half of patients with an acute flare.
  2. Asymptomatic tissue deposition occurs when people display no overt symptoms of gout, but show signs of hyperuricemia and the crystals deposits in tissuesthat cause damage.
  3. Chronic gout is characterized by chronic arthritis, with soreness and aching of joints. People with gout may also develop tophi (masses of urate crystals deposited in soft tissue)-usually in cooler areas of the body such as the elbows, ears, and distal finger joints.
  4. Intercritical segments occur after an acute flare has subsided, and a person may enter a stage with clinically inactive disease before the next flare. The person with gout continues to experience hyperuricemia, which results in continued deposits of urate crystals in tissues and damage.

Doctors think that gout may be caused by a combination of factors.  What are these causes of gout and what can you avoid to decrease your risk of developing the arthritic condition?  Read here to learn more about what causes gout.

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Tags: asymptomatic, diagnosis, Arthritis, treatment, symptoms, swelling, attacks, chronic, affects, joints, aching, wrist, ankle, acid, food, about the immune system, acid in the body, arthritis what is, arthritis risk factors, symptoms of arthritis
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