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Alternative Names Return to topGouty arthritis - acute; Gout - acute; Hyperuricemia; Tophaceous gout; Tophi; Podagra; Gout - chronic; Chronic gout; Acute gout
Definition Return to top
Gout is a kind of arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in the joints.
Causes Return to top
Gout is caused by having higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in your body. Your body may make too much uric acid, or have a hard time getting rid of uric acid. If too much uric acid builds up in the fluid around the joints (synovial fluid), uric acid crystals form. These crystals cause the joint to swell up and become inflamed.
Not everyone with high uric acid levels in the blood has gout.
The exact cause is unknown. Gout may run in families. It is more common in males, postmenopausal women, and people who drink alcohol. People who take certain medicines, such as hydrochlorothiazide and other water pills, may have higher levels of uric acid in the blood.
The condition may also develop in people with:
The condition may occur after taking medicines that interfere with the removal of uric acid from the body.
Symptoms Return to top
Symptoms of acute gouty attacks:
After a first gouty attack, people will have no symptoms. Some people will go months or even years between gouty attacks.
Some people may develop chronic gouty arthritis, but others may have no further attacks. Those with chronic arthritis develop joint deformities and loss of motion in the joints. They will have joint pain and other symptoms most of the time.
Tophi are lumps below the skin around joints or in other places. They may drain chalky material. Tophi usually develop only after a patient has had the disease for many years.
After one gouty attack, more than half of people will have another attack.
Exams and Tests Return to top
Tests that may be done include:
Treatment Return to top
Treatments for a sudden attack or flare-up of gout:
Daily use of allopurinol or probenecid decrease uric acid levels in your blood. Your doctor may prescribe these medicines if:
Some diet and lifestyle changes may help prevent gouty attacks:
See also: Kidney stones
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Proper treatment of acute attacks allows people to live a normal life. However, the acute form of the disease may progress to chronic gout.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of acute gouty arthritis.
Prevention Return to top
The disorder itself may not be preventable, but you may be able to avoid things that trigger your symptoms. Limit alcohol consumption and follow a low-purine diet.
References Return to top
Keith MP, Gilliland WR. Updates in the management of gout. Am J Med. 2007;120:221-224.
Cameron MA, Sakhaee K. Uric acid nephrolithiasis. Urol Clin North Am. 2007;34:335-346.Update Date: 6/17/2009 Updated by: Mark James Borigini, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.