Gout is a kind of arthritis. It can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. These attacks can happen over and over unless gout is treated. Over time, they can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout is most common in men.
Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. Most of the time, having too much uric acid isn’t harmful. Many people with high levels in their blood never get gout. But when uric acid levels in your blood are too high, the uric acid may form hard crystals in your joints.
There are several factors that can make a person more susceptible to gout, according to the NIH. A few are
- Having a family history of gout
- Being overweight
- Having kidney problems
- Lead exposure
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Taking certain medications like diuretics or niacin
- Intense joint pain that is most severe in the first 12 to 24 hours
- Joint pain that lasts a few days to a few weeks and spreads to more joints over time
- Redness, tenderness and swelling of the joints
See your doctor even if your pain from gout is gone. The buildup of uric acid that led to your gout attack can still harm your joints.
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. Your doctor may also take a sample of fluid from your joint to look for uric acid crystals. This is the best way to test for gout. Your doctor may also do a blood test to measure the amount of uric acid in your blood.
To stop a gout attack, your doctor can give you a shot of corticosteroids or prescribe a large daily dose of one or more medicines. The doses will get smaller as your symptoms go away. Relief from a gout attack often begins within 24 hours if you start treatment right away.