Gout is an inflammatory joint disease that causes acute pain and swelling. It is a form of arthritis that develops when uric acid crystals form in and around the joints, commonly affecting the big toe joint (this symptom is called podagra).
Gout causes warmth, pain, swelling, redness, and extreme tenderness of the affected joint, and it may cause chills and fever. Gout may involve other joints of the feet, ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows.
Inherited factors (genes) may play a role in a person's risk for developing high uric acid levels. Gout can seem to flare up without specific cause or can be brought on by factors such as being overweight, eating meats and seafood that are high in chemicals called purines, taking certain medications (especially aspirin and diuretics), and drinking too much alcohol.
Symptoms of gout usually begin suddenly, often at night, and the pain may be severe. Chronic gout may cause painless nodules (tophi) to develop under the skin. Without treatment, gout attacks tend to recur and may cause severe damage to joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout usually can be successfully treated with medication.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.