What causes gout?
Gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in the joint, causing inflammation and intense pain. This typically occurs when there are high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is produced when purine-rich foods such as steak, organ meats, seafood, and alcoholic beverages, especially beer and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose), are consumed in a large quantity. Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood and gets excreted into the urine. However, sometimes there is too much uric acid or too little uric acid excreted causing urate crystals in the joint.
Risk factors: The following factors increase the uric acid level in the body:
- Diet: Eating a diet rich in meat, seafood, alcohol, and beverages sweetened with fructose (fruit sugar) increase levels of uric acid, which increase the risk of gout.
- Obesity: Higher the bodyweight, higher the uric acid produced in the body.
- Medical conditions: Certain diseases and conditions increase the risk of gout, such as untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart and kidney diseases.
- Certain medications: Certain anti-hypertension medication, aspirin, etc. can increase uric acid levels.
- Family history of gout
- Inadequate hydration
- Age and sex: Gout occurs more often in men because women have lower uric acid levels. Men are more likely to develop gout between the ages of 30 and 50 years, and women may develop signs and symptoms after menopause.
- Recent surgery or trauma