Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2007;76(6):811-812

See related article on gout.

What is gout?

Gout is when you have too much uric acid in your body. Uric acid can build up and form crystals. The crystals can cause kidney stones, joint pain called arthritis, or deposits under the skin called tophi (TOE-feye).

Who gets gout?

Men older than 30 years are most likely to get gout. Women can get it but usually not until after menopause.

You are more likely to get gout if you are overweight, drink alcohol, or take diuretics (water pills) for high blood pressure. You are also more likely to get it if you are taking certain medicines after having an organ transplant.

What is a gout attack?

A gout attack is when you have sudden pain, redness, and swelling in a joint. It usually happens at the base of the big toe, but it can happen in other joints. The pain can make even light touch to the joint seem unbearable.

How will my doctor know if I have gout?

Your doctor may suspect gout because of your symptoms. Your doctor may examine your blood and fluid from the joint to be sure.

How is gout treated?

Medicine can help stop the pain and irritation in the joint during a gout attack. If you keep having attacks, your doctor may give you medicine to lower the level of uric acid in your body. You should keep taking the medicine even if you have another attack.

Staying at a healthy weight can lower your risk of having another attack. If your doctor says it's okay, walk 20 minutes a day for exercise. You should not drink a lot of alcohol (especially beer) or eat a lot of red meat and seafood.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

American College of Rheumatology

Arthritis Foundation

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Medline Plus

UpToDate Patient Information

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