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 (hyperuricemia) may lead to gout, although most people with this condition will not develop the symptoms of gout.
Conversely, people without hyperuricemia can develop gout.
It is estimated that over 2 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.
American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
American College of Rheumatology website. Available at:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
The Merck Manual of Medical Information.
17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.
Last reviewed September 2011 by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
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