What is Gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis. People who usually get gout usually have a high level of uric acid in their blood. Uric acid can form crystals in joints like the toes, knees and fingers, causing pain and swelling. People most likely to get gout are middle-aged men, and women after menopause. Gout could come on very quickly, often at night.
Signs & Symptoms
- A joint that suddenly becomes hot, red and swollen.
- Joints that are extremely painful and sensitive to touch – sometimes even the weight of a bed sheet can be too much.
- You may also feel sick, lose your appetite or have a temperature.
You may have a high level of uric acid if you:
- Have a family history of gout
- Drink too much alcohol
- Are overweight
- Eat foods that can increase the level of uric acid in your blood
- Have certain health problems.
People who get gout attacks may also develop kidney problems later in life if their gout isn’t well controlled.
Stages of Gout
- A gout attack usually starts in a single joint, often the big toe. Your ankle, foot, knee or hand may also be affected.
- Untreated, gout attacks last about a week. Some people get another attack soon after, but for others it may be months or years before another attack occurs.
- If you’ve had gout for many years, uric acid crystals may form small lumps (tophi) on your ears, toes, hands and elbows. Tophi are usually painless but over time can grow and may deform joints.
- If you don’t treat your gout correctly, the time between attacks can get shorter and more joints can be affected.