Gout is a form of arthritis that can affect anyone. One of the main symptoms is severe pain. Joints affected by gout appear red and swollen. The cause of gout is elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. The joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected area. The number of people affected and diagnosed with gout each year is on the rise. Attacks of gout can come and go with the rising and falling of levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, and it is very important for a person who suffers gout to be compliant with the advice of doctors. Gout, if left untreated, can be quite debilitating due to the sudden attacks of serious pain it causes.

Raised levels of uric acid are typically caused by dietary factors, genetics, and under-excretion of urine. Uric acid is a substance that is typically present in urine. Changing lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can prevent the recurrence of gout in most cases. Alcohol should be avoided, as it has been associated with an increased risk of developing gout.

Gout can be diagnosed with a medical analysis of the sufferer’s symptoms. A blood test may be used for diagnosis, as a high count of white blood cells may be indicative of gout. Doctors can also extract joint fluid from the afflicted area and examine it under a microscope for uric crystals. Testing for high levels of uric acid alone may not be helpful, as most people with high levels never go on to develop gout. Men are more likely to develop gout than women, and it almost never occurs in children or young adults. Gout, unlike many other forms of arthritis, is likely to cause pain in only one afflicted area, usually the feet.

Gout is treatable with medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications and steroids, as well as pain medication in some cases, if the pain is very severe and limits the individual’s ability to function in everyday life. Some people may not tolerate these medications very well, and the side effects for some treatments can be unpleasant and severe.

If you believe you may be suffering with gout, it is important to talk to a doctor about your concerns, as it is very treatable. Acute attacks can usually be cleared up soon with the right medication and changes in lifestyle habits.