What is Gout?

"Be temperate in wine, in eating, girls, and sloth; Or the Gout will seize you and plague you both"

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Gout is a painful and potentially disabling rheumatic disease and is one of the most common forms of arthritis. Gout accounts for approximately 5% of all cases of arthritis.

In the U.S. it occurs in approximately 840 out of every 100,000 people. Historical records for gout have been found dating back over 2000 years.

Gout was first described by the famous greek physician Hippocrates, 'the father of medicine'.

A swollen gout affected toe
A swollen gout
affected toe
(also see pictures of gout)

Gout is characterised by high levels of uric acid in the blood and reoccurring 'gout attacks'. Uric acid is eliminated by the kidneys and passed out of the body in urine.

If the kidneys are unable to eliminate uric acid efficiently, blood uric acid levels will increase. A hardened form of uric acid ( sodium urate) may then be deposited around joints.

These hardened, crystallised deposits can lead to 'gout attacks' which causes joint inflammation (arthritis) and much pain. The skin around an affected joint becomes red and shiny with the affected area being tender and painful to touch.

Whilst there are often months or years between initial attacks, gout attacks can become more frequent overtime. If left untreated, acute gout attacks can lead to permanent joint damage and disability.

Gout is an incurable disease although gout symptoms can be treated successfully.

There are medical, dietary, alternative, and lifestyle approaches to treating gout. Properly treated, individuals with gout can live a more complete and healthy life.