Uric acid is normally cleaned out of the blood by the kidneys, and passes out of the body along with urine. However, high levels of uric acid can accumulate in the body, either when the kidneys excrete too little uric acid, when the body produces too much uric acid. This condition is known as hyperuricemia. The main causes are
- Genetics – An estimated 20 to 80 percent of people with gout have a family history gout
- Weight – Being overweight increases risk
- Drinking too much alcohol keeps the body from removing uric acid.
- Eating high-purine foods can lead to gout flares or make them worse. These foods include asparagus, beef kidneys, brains, dried beans and peas, game meats, gravy, herring, liver, mackerel, mushrooms, sardines, scallops, and sweetbread
- Other health problems –Other problems that may contribute to gout include: high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, psoriasis, hemolytic anemia, or some cancers, Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome
- Lesch-Nyhan syndrome and some inherited disorders
- Diuretics (water pills): These are taken to ease high blood pressure, edema, and heart disease. They also decrease the amount of uric acid passed in the urine.
- Usage of some drugs like Salicylate-containing drugs, Niacin, Cyclosporine and Levodopa
- Symptoms of gout are generally acute - they come on suddenly without warning. A significant proportion of patients experience them at night.
- Gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints, more commonly the big toe is affected often the joint at the base of the big toe.
- Sometimes severe pain in the ankles, hands, wrists, knees or feet. Many patients describe the affected areas as warm. The fluid sacs that cushion tissue (bursae) may become inflamed (bursitis) - when this happens in the elbow it is called olcranon bursitis, while in the knee prepatellar bursitis.
- Pain last for over a week if left untreated - and then gradually goes away during the following week or two.
- Itching and peeling of the skin around the affected area
- Redness and inflammation of the sufferer will most likely have tender, red and swollen joint(s) in the areas that experienced the most pain.
- The affected area may become red or purplish, making the patient think he has an infection.
- Fever - Some patients have an elevated temperature.
- The affected joint may be harder to use, the patient has limited movement.
Some patients experience no symptoms. In these cases it may develop into chronic gout.