Gout is a very painful form of arthritis that can occur when your body builds up too much uric acid. The excess acid can be deposited as sharp uric crystals in joints; deposits of uric acid that appear as lumps under the skin; and / or as kidney stones in the kidneys.

Basically gout is a disease that results from an overload of uric acid in the body. This overload leads to the formation of tiny uric crystals that deposit themselves in the tissues of the body, especially the joints. When the crystals form in the joints, this can cause joint inflammation or arthritis.

Gout is often related to the body's ability to process uric acid properly. It is usually a neutral, and unnecessary, chemical that is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and eliminated from the body through urine. People with gout usually get it because their body either produces too much of it or it does a poor job in eliminating it. Uric acid occurs naturally in the body but can also be increased by consuming foods that contain a lot of the substance called purine. In general, foods that are high in fat or cholesterol are also high in purines. Dairy products and certain vegetables (spinach, cauliflower, peas, mushrooms, and asparagus) are rich in purines and should be avoided by people suffering gout. Generally, red meat and fish like mackerel and sardines should have been reduced or avoided as they are rich in purines as well.

One can be more likely to have gout if you:

• Are overweight or obese
• Consume too much alcohol
• Have high blood pressure
• Are male
• Eat too many foods rich in purines
• Are exposed to lead in the environment
• Have had an organ transplant
• Use some medicines such as thiazide diuretics, levodopa, aspirin, cyclosporine

Who is affected by gout?

There are approximately 5 million people in the United States who suffer from gout. It is nine times more frequent in men than in women. Gout occurs in men after the age of puberty and peaks at age 75 while in women it generally occurs after menopause.

Bottom line, uric acid deposits are the main cause of gout. As a disease, gout is nothing to ignore, and should be given the serious attention it describes.