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. Most people however, with high uric acid levels will not develop the symptoms of gout.
Conversely, people without hyperuricemia can develop gout.
It is estimated that over
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 June 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
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