Gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis. It is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body and the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints. Everybody makes uric acid but when the levels are too high it can lead to gout. People with gout can have flares of extremely painful, warm, red and swollen joints. The big toe is the most common joint affected but other joints can be affected as well.
The best way to manage gout is to keep levels of uric acid in a healthy range. Foods including meats, fish, seafood, alcohol, and sugary drinks increase uric acid levels in the body. Gout is more common in people with kidney problems or those taking certain medications such as diuretics (water pills).
Gout is most likely to start in men in their 40s or 50s. Gout almost never occurs in women until they reach the menopause or if they have a kidney problem.
Gout often runs in families so it is likely that genetics play a role in the development of gout. Men who have family members affected by gout have a higher chance of having gout themselves. This usually involves a genetic problem with the kidneys and how they handle uric acid.