Overview of Gout

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that can affect anyone and is extremely painful. It usually starts affecting one joint at a time (usually the big toe joint). 

Gout is characterized by sudden severe pain attacks in which you feel like your foot is on fire. These sudden bursts of pain are called flares. They occur when the symptoms get worse. Flares are usually followed by remission. This is a phase when there are no symptoms.

Repeated bursts of gout can lead to gouty arthritis which is a complex form of arthritis. Through proper care and medication, this disease can be treated. 

Signs and Symptoms of Gout

Gout usually occurs in one joint at a time. The most commonly affected area of gout is the big toe but it can occur in other joints as well. The other affected areas can be the ankle, knee, and other toe joints. 

Look out for these symptoms of gout: 

  • Very intense pain in the joint - apart from the big toe, the other affected area can be the knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers. The intense pain lasts for about four to twelve hours after it begins. 
  • Swelling - the affected joint becomes swollen, warm, and tender
  • Limited movement - as the pain starts to build up, you may not be able to move and function properly. 
  • Long-lasting - the pain lingers for a longer period even if it is not severe. It creates a general feeling of discomfort.

Immediately consult your general physician if you feel any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms. Untreated gout can lead to worsened pain and permanent joint damage. 

Types of Gout

Some more-severe types of gout are: 

  • Recurrent Gout - gout can occur with or without any symptoms. You can have multiple gout attacks randomly. Medications can help with this recurrent gout. 
  • Advanced Gout - untreated gout causes several urate crystals deposits under the skin. They are generally not painful but become tender and swollen during a gout attack. 

Another complication of gout is kidney stones. Urate crystals can cause kidney stones in some people. 

Causes of Gout

The abundance of uric acid in the body causes gout. The urate crystals gather in your joints causing inflammation and swelling. Uric acid is produced by the body when it breaks down Purines, a substance found in our meals. 

Under normal circumstances, uric acid dissolves in our blood and passes through the kidney and into the urine. But, sometimes due to the overproduction of uric acid by the body or little excretion of uric acid by the kidneys, the level of uric acid shoots up from the normal range. 

This causes a large quantity of urate crystal deposits around the affected joints. 


Risk Factors of Gout

Gout occurs because of high levels of uric acid. Some of the factors which can increase uric acid levels in boys are: 

  • Unbalanced diet - diets rich in Fructose (sugar, like beverages), meat, and seafood can increase uric acid. 
  • Alcohol - alcohol consumption and beer can also increase the risks of gout. 
  • Obesity - if you’re overweight, your kidneys are under extra pressure and sometimes they do not function as effectively as they would do for a nonobese person. Kidneys do not excrete enough uric acid which starts depositing in the body. 
  • Medical Conditions - underlying medical conditions like blood pressure, diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, and other digestive issues can lead to an imbalance in uric acid which increases the risks of gout. 
  • Medication - certain medications like anti-rejection drugs and medicines used to treat hypertension can also increase uric acid levels in the body. 
  • Family history - even if you initially have no sign of gout but have a family history of gout, you should be very cautious about your diet and physical well-being. 
  • Age and gender - men usually have higher levels of uric acid and men are likely to be more affected by this. Men aged between 30-50 show a higher tendency to fall prey to his disease. Women after menopause, develop larger uric acid levels which lead to gout in some cases. 
  • Exposure to recent surgery or trauma - exposure to recent surgery or trauma is also associated with increasing the risks of a gout attack. 




While there is no guaranteed way to prevent gout, there are some lifestyle changes you can make that may help reduce your risk of developing the condition:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing gout, so it is important to maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help prevent gout attacks by flushing out excess uric acid from your body.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol can increase the production of uric acid in the body and make it harder for your body to eliminate it, so it is recommended to limit your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether.
  • Avoid purine-rich foods: Purines are substances found in certain foods that can increase the amount of uric acid in your body. Foods to avoid or limit include red meat, organic meats, seafood, and certain vegetables like asparagus and mushrooms.
  • Take medications as prescribed: If you have been diagnosed with gout, it is important to take any medications prescribed by your doctor as directed to manage your symptoms and prevent future attacks.
  • Get regular check-ups: Regular visits to your doctor can help identify and manage any underlying health conditions that may increase your risk of developing gout.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. If you have a family history of gout or are experiencing any symptoms, it is important to talk to a rheumatologist/ podiatrist for guidance on how to reduce your risk of developing the condition.



Diagnosing gout usually involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Here are some of the common methods used for diagnosing gout:

  • Medical history: Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history, including any family history of gout or other medical conditions that may increase your risk of developing the condition.
  • Physical examination: During a physical examination, your doctor may look for signs of gout, such as redness, swelling, and tenderness in the affected joint. They may also check for the presence of tophi, which are deposits of uric acid crystals that can form under the skin.
  • Joint fluid analysis: A sample of fluid may be taken from the affected joint and examined under a microscope to look for uric acid crystals. If uric acid crystals are present in the joint fluid, it is a strong indication of gout.
  • Blood tests: A blood test can measure the level of uric acid in your blood. However, it's important to note that a high level of uric acid in your blood does not necessarily mean that you have gout, as some people with high levels of uric acid never develop gout.
  • X-rays or imaging tests: These tests can help your doctor rule out other possible causes of joint pain and inflammation, such as fractures or osteoarthritis.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gout, such as sudden and severe joint pain, it is important to seek medical attention. Your doctor can help determine the cause of your symptoms and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment of Gout | When to Consult a Doctor

It is extremely important to get yourself checked and treated if you think you have potential signs of gout. Untreated gout can cause permanent damage to your joints. The treatment depends upon the severity and stage of gout. 

Gout is diagnosed during a flare - a condition when your joint is inflamed, swollen, and painful. Lab tests to determine the uric acid levels and X-rays to see the shape of the joint are also done. 

It is treated through medication only followed by some lifestyle changes. Certain changes in lifestyle are eminent to live a healthy life.