What Is the Main Cause of Gout?
Gout is a common type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause intense bouts of joint pain—often at night—and days or weeks of lingering discomfort. These periods of severe pain are referred to as flares. Gout typically affects the joint at the base of the big toe, but it may also impact smaller toe joints, the ankle or the knee. Other possible signs of gout include redness, swelling and warmth around the affected joint.
The main cause of gout is too much uric acid in the body, a condition known as hyperuricemia. Uric acid is produced by the body to help break down purines, naturally occurring chemical compounds found in many foods. There are also beverages that can trigger increased uric acid production, including alcohol and drinks sweetened with fructose. Too much uric acid causes the formation of uric acid crystals that can collect in tissues and joints.
Risk Factors for Gout
There are several factors that may increase your risk of developing hyperuricemia and subsequent gout. These include:
- Being male
- Being overweight
- Having certain chronic health problems, including diabetes, insulin resistance, congestive heart failure, metabolic syndrome or high blood pressure
- Having a family history of gout
- Taking certain medications, including thiazide diuretics and low-dose aspirin
- Consuming large amounts of fructose (fruit sugar)
- Drinking alcohol in excess (particularly beer)
- Frequently eating purine-rich foods, including red meat, organ meat, anchovies, scallops, mussels, tuna and trout
Gout Treatment Options
Gout cannot be reversed, but there are several medications that can reduce painful symptoms, prevent future gout attacks and reduce the risk of gout complications like kidney stones. Your doctor may also recommend certain lifestyle changes to improve your joint health and reduce uric acid levels, such as:
- Losing excess weight
- Engaging in low-impact exercise
- Drinking plenty of water
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Eating less red meat and purine-rich seafood
Find Relief From Gout at Tufts Medical Center Community Care
Tufts Medical Center Community Care is a multispecialty medical group that features a growing team of more than 120 clinicians, including rheumatologists who routinely help patients manage gout symptoms and achieve their best quality of life. Working collaboratively with primary care providers and other specialists in our expansive physician network, our rheumatologists provide well-rounded care that’s personalized to the unique needs of each patient.
Don’t allow gout to keep you sidelined. Find relief from your symptoms and get back to the things you enjoy by consulting with a rheumatologist at Tufts Medical Center Community Care. We make it simple to speak with a specialist thanks to our:
- Multiple locations throughout north suburban Boston
- Ample free parking at each location
- Better-than-average appointment availability
- Telemedicine services (when appropriate)
Contact our friendly professionals today or go online to schedule an appointment at your convenience. We accept most health insurance plans and are proud to be a clinical affiliate of Tufts Medical Center.