Gout is a kind of arthritis which can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. Over time, the attacks can harm the joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout is most common in men and usually affects people between the ages of 50 and 60. Gout is characterized by excruciating, sudden, unexpected, burning pain, as well as swelling, redness, warmth, and stiffness in the affected joint. Gout can also affect other joints such as the ankle, heel, instep, knee, wrist, elbow, fingers, and spine.         

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. Usually, having too much uric acid is not harmful and many people with high levels in their blood never get gout. But when uric acid levels in the blood are too high, the uric acid may form hard crystals in the joints. Purine metabolism gives rise to uric acid, which is normally excreted in the urine. Purines can be generated by the body or can be ingested in purine-rich foods. Alcohol intake often causes acute attacks of gout and hereditary factors may contribute to the elevation of uric acid. Risk factors of gout include being above 50 years, male, obese and overswieght, being predisposed to diabetes and hypertension, and at higher risk of heart disease. It is also more common in affluent societies due to a diet rich in proteins, fat, and alcohol.           

 Research has shown that men who consume two or more sugary soft drinks a day have an 85% higher risk of gout compared with those who drink less than one a month. This is because soft drinks contain large quantities of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a common sweetener in soft drinks, which results in Hyperuricemia which also predispose the body for gout. Consumption of beer is associated with an increase in risk.              

 Sufferers of gout should avoid foods high in purines such as kidneys, liver, brains, or other offal meats, sardines, anchovies, herrings, yeast, oyster, shrimp, crab and lobster. Foods moderately high in purines which should be eaten in limited quantities include; mutton, bacon, liver, salmon, turkey, and trout. Alcohol especially beer should be avoided because brewer's yeasts are very rich in purines and alcohol impairs kidney function and accelerates the buildup of uric acid in the system. Since gout seems to be more prevalent in overweight people it is important to maintain a healthy body weight through regular exercises and a reduction in high fat and high sugar foods. Also extra fluid can help flush uric acid crystals out.          

Gout is a condition which is treatable medically and anyone suspecting this should visit her/his hospital and the relevant laboratory tests would be done. If proven appropriate medication would be prescribed. To prevent gout adults should be moderate in their intake of protein, alcohol and should exercise regularly.


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