Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the blood. Sharp, urate crystals form in the joints and surrounding tissue, causing pain, swelling, and inflammation. Excess uric acid can occur when the body produces too much. However, it's also possible if the body produces a normal amount that cannot be flushed out of the system by the kidneys.
Anywhere from 2 to 6 million Americans have developed gout, potentially doubling the number of those suffering from just 30 years ago. While anyone can develop this condition, some people are more likely than others. For example, while men are three to four times more likely than women to develop gout during middle age, after menopause the chance of high uric acid levels increases.
Additionally, diet and lifestyle can impact your chances of developing gout as well. Uric acid is a byproduct the body creates while breaking down purines, which are commonly found in seafood, organ meats, steak, and similar meat products. A diet high in these things, sugary sodas, or alcohol (beer in particular) increases the chances of developing gout.
Underlying medical conditions (such as kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease), a family history of gout, recent trauma or surgical procedures, obesity, and some medications (like aspirin or thiazide diuretics) all play a role in the increased chance of gout.
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