What Causes Gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis that results from the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. The exact cause of gout is an overproduction or underexcretion of uric acid. Here are the primary factors that contribute to the development of gout:

  1. Elevated uric acid levels: Uric acid is a waste product that forms when the body breaks down purines, which are naturally occurring substances found in certain foods and also produced by the body. In individuals with gout, there is either an overproduction of uric acid or reduced elimination through the kidneys, leading to elevated uric acid levels in the blood.
  2. Diet: Consumption of foods rich in purines can increase uric acid levels and contribute to gout. Examples of purine-rich foods include red meat, organ meats (liver, kidney), seafood (anchovies, sardines, mussels), and some alcoholic beverages (beer and spirits).
  3. Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing gout. Excess weight can lead to higher levels of uric acid and impair the body’s ability to eliminate it.
  4. Genetics: Gout has a genetic component, and a family history of gout increases the likelihood of developing the condition. Certain genetic mutations can affect how the body processes uric acid.
  5. Age and gender: Gout is more common in men, particularly after the age of 30. However, postmenopausal women also have an increased risk due to hormonal changes.
  6. Medications: Some medications can contribute to elevated uric acid levels and trigger gout. Examples include diuretics (water pills) used to treat hypertension and certain immunosuppressive drugs.
  7. Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions can increase the risk of gout. These include kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers.

It’s important to note that not everyone with elevated uric acid levels will develop gout, and gout can occur in individuals with normal uric acid levels as well. If you experience symptoms such as sudden, severe joint pain, swelling, and redness, particularly in the big toe, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your symptoms, conduct diagnostic tests, and provide appropriate treatment options to manage and prevent gout attacks. Treatment may involve medications to manage pain and inflammation, lifestyle modifications, and dietary changes to reduce uric acid levels.