A painful malady.
Gout is a complex form of arthritis. It causes swelling, pain and sensitivity in joints, especially at the base of the big toe. Men are more likely to suffer from gout, although a woman’s chance of the disease increases after menopause.
Gout is usually caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood which cause urate crystals to collect in the joints. Certain foods contain substances called purines, which generate a greater level of uric acid as the body breaks them down. The body itself also produces purines. Normally, the kidneys process the uric acid, but sometimes the body produces too much for the kidneys to handle.
Excessive alcohol use is known to increase the risk of gout. Gout is also more likely in people with a family history of the disease, with diabetes, high levels of cholesterol in the blood, high blood pressure, or arteriosclerosis.