Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that results from the build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints. The condition is characterized by sudden and severe attacks of pain, swelling, and tenderness in the affected joint. Gout most commonly affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints, such as the ankles, knees, elbows, and wrists.
Uric acid is a waste product that is produced when the body breaks down purines, which are substances found in many foods and drinks, including red meat, shellfish, and alcohol. When the levels of uric acid in the blood become too high, they can form sharp crystals that accumulate in the joints and cause inflammation.
Certain foods can affect gout by increasing the levels of uric acid in the body, which can lead to the formation of urate crystals in the joints and cause painful gout attacks. Foods that are high in purines, such as red meat, organ meats, shellfish, and some types of fish, can increase uric acid levels.
Foods and drinks that are high in fructose, such as sugary drinks and some types of fruit, can also raise uric acid levels. On the other hand, some foods and drinks, such as low-fat dairy products, vegetables, and coffee, have been shown to have a protective effect against gout.
Certain factors can increase the risk of developing gout, such as a family history of the condition, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease. Men are also more likely than women to develop gout.
Treatment for gout typically involves managing pain and inflammation during an attack with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids. Long-term management of gout may involve medications to reduce the production or increase the elimination of uric acid, as well as lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding trigger foods and drinks, and staying hydrated.
Without proper treatment, gout can lead to joint damage and other complications. However, with appropriate management, most people with gout are able to control their symptoms and prevent future attacks. If you suspect that you have gout, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.