"The French have taste in all they do - which we are quite without; For Nature, that to them gave gout, To us gave only gout"
In most cases, gout is associated with a condition known as hyperuricemia.
Hyperuricemia occurs when the blood contains raised levels of uric acid sustained over long periods. The kidneys process uric acid and excrete this through urine.
When uric acid levels become raised, the kidneys are unable to eliminate uric acid efficiently.
In some cases, the cause of gout is not linked to hyperuricemia but to kidney disease.
Blood uric acid levels can arise when the kidney is not functioning properly.
Whichever cause, the kidneys can become damaged when blood uric acid levels are raised over long periods.
The body unable to eliminate uric acid, deposits a hardened crystallised form of uric acid (tophi) usually in the joints and skin. Within the joints, deposits can be made in the joint fluid (synovial fluid) and joint lining (synovial lining).
Less common areas of uric acid deposits include the ears and eyes. Tophi, areas of hardened uric acid, may also be seen under the skin around the fingers and toes.
Causes of uric acid build up
Gout is linked to raised levels of uric acid & there are risk factors which may increase these levels.
- High intake of purine rich foods
- Foods high in purines can increase blood uric acid levels. Foods to avoid with gout include offal foods, red meat and shellfish.
- High alcohol intake
- Alcohol, particularly beer and wine can increase uric acid levels in the body. Heavy alcohol intake is a risk factor which often precedes a gout attack.
- Gout often runs in families being passed down from one generation to the next. This genetic component disproves the common notion that gout is mainly caused by excessive eating and drinking.
- Obesity can be a contributory factor and increases the likelihood of gout
- High blood pressure
- High blood pressure is linked to high uric acid levels. High uric levels are also linked to other conditions such as heart disease.
- Diuretics, aspirin and chemotherapy treatment for cancer can increase uric acid levels.
Next: Gout Diagnosis