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Gout Causes and Risk Factors

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

Causes of gout
Gout is caused by a build up of uric acid (urate) in your blood. Uric acid is the end product of the metabolism of chemicals called "purines" that are found in many foods and certain types of alcohol and occur naturally in the body. Normally, the body disposes of excess uric acid via urine, but people diagnosed with gout accumulate uric acid due to overproduction of uric acid or reduced excretion by the kidneys. Accumulated uric acid can also cause kidney stones.

More than 99% of primary gout cases are referred to as idiopathic, meaning that the cause cannot be determined. However, doctors believe that gout is most likely the result of a combination of hormonal, genetic, and dietary factors. Secondary gout may be caused by drug therapy or by medical conditions other than an inborn metabolic disorder.

Risk factors
Gout is 9 times more common in men than women. Gout often affects men in their 40's and 50's although gout attacks can occur after puberty. Gout attacks are more common in women after menopause. Gout attacks are also more common in people with kidney disease. The following factors increase your risk for gout:

  • advancing age
  • drinking a large amount of alcohol, particularly beer
  • eating purine-rich foods
  • exposure to lead
  • family history of the condition
  • male gender
  • obesity
  • other, serious illness
  • organ transplants
  • thyroid problems
  • use of certain drugs, including diuretics, aspirin, cyclosporine, or levodopa

The sooner gout symptoms are treated the better. Many people experience a gout attack every few weeks, months or years. It's impossible to predict whether gout will strike again, however over 50% of people experience a second attack within 12 months of the first gout attack. To learn how to identify the first symptoms of gout, read the section on Gout Symptoms that follows.

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Tags: after menopause, kidney disease, kidney stones, metabolism, Menopause, drinking, symptoms, kidneys, Puberty, dietary, Obesity, attacks, affects, thyroid, stones, kidney, urine, acid, male, acid in the body
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