What is Gout?

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What is Gout?
Gout is a medical condition characterized by intense pain at the joints (commonly the foot), typically affecting the joint of the big toe. Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, causing swelling in joints.
With gout, the affected individual experiences severe pain, swelling, tenderness and a burning feeling in the affected area. Gout can occur suddenly, as in the middle of sleep. This makes getting back to sleep very difficult, as any type of pressure’”event the slightest movement or the weight of a blanket’”can trigger intense pain.
Gout can affect anyone, but is more prevalent in men than in women. Gout is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, called hyperuricemia. The uric acid produces deposits of crystals in the joints causing a gout attack. Sometimes, these crystals can be passed easily through urination, but sometimes they can cause problems when deposited in the kidneys or in the joints such as in gout.
There are many risk factors for gout, including genetics. People who have a family history of gout are more predisposed to have the condition. Age is also a factor, as women tend to develop gout after menopause, compared to the earlier development in men (men at around the age of 40-50). Lifestyle and diet is also a big factor in developing gout, as excessive and habitual alcohol drinkers are more likely to have gout, and certain foods can act as triggers. In many cases, an underlying medical condition can be the cause of gout.
Gout is not life threatening, but can significantly reduce quality of life if left untreated.

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