What Is Gout?

Sudden, Intense Joint Pain

Gout is a disease that causes the sudden onset of intense pain and swelling in the joints, which also may be warm and red. Attacks frequently occur at night and can be triggered by stressful events, alcohol or drugs, or the presence of another illness.

Before an attack, needle-like crystals of uric acid build up in connective tissue, in the joint space between two bones, or in both.

A Buildup of Uric Acid

Uric acid is a substance that results from the breakdown of purines, which are part of all human tissue and are found in many foods. Early attacks usually subside within 3 to 10 days, even without treatment, and the next attack may not occur for months or even years.

Who is at Risk?

Adult men, particularly those between the ages of 40 and 50, are more likely to develop gout than women, who rarely develop the disease before menstruation ends.

Where Gout Usually Occurs

Sometime during the course of the disease, many patients will develop gout in the big toe. Gout frequently affects joints in the lower part of the body such as the ankles, heels, knees, or toes.