Gout is a type of arthritis that causes painful inflammation in the joints. Usually it affects one joint which is most commonly the big toe. However, it can affect any joint in the body such as the ankles, knees, wrists, elbows and any joints in the hands or finger.
Symptoms of gout usually develop rapidly and usually start at night. The joint may then start to feel normal again with any pain or discomfort eventually disappearing . However, most people who get gout will have further attacks in the future.
The symptoms of gout are caused by an above normal level of urate in the bloodstream, which builds up and forms crystals, mainly in and around joints and especially in the finger and toe joints. This can lead to intensely pain and inflammation.
There are several factors that can increase the level of blood urate. These include a diet rich in purines (which form urate when broken down) such as red meat, seafood and some other foods; excess alcohol consumption; the use of certain medicines such as diuretics; a family history of gout; kidney disease; and overweight or obesity.
Gout affects about 1% of the population and is more common in men, particularly those aged 30 to 60, and in women who have already experienced the menopause.