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Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when the blood and tissues contain a large amount of uric acid. The uric acid forms sharp, needle-like crystals that congregate in the joints. Attacks can appear suddenly and can last from a few hours to several days. Attacks are extremely painful. Attacks frequently affect the big toe, the ear, the heel of the hand, joints in the hand, ankles, knees, elbows, and wrists, causing inflammation, swelling and intense pain. The people most commonly affected by gout are men who are middle-aged and older.


Symptoms of gout may include rapid onset of severe pain in the big toe, tender, swollen and warm joints, red skin on the joints, an increased heartbeat, bursitis and sometimes fever or chills.


People who suffer from gout have a deficiency in a digestive enzyme called uricase, which breaks down uric acid. Uric acid comes from purines in certain foods like coffee, meat, shellfish and alcohol. Gout is associated with other ailments like high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis and kidney stones. Heredity may play a factor in developing the ailment. Women don't usually become afflicted until after menopause. Other causes may include stress, surgery, injury, antibiotic use, Candida infections, vitamin deficiency, chemotherapy, hypothyroidism, kidney failure and other diseases like leukemia, myeloma and psoriasis. Some studies suggest that lead poisoning may also play a part.


Untreated gout may lead to kidney stones and kidney disease. See a medical professional if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above for a proper diagnosis and plan of treatment.

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