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Causes of Gout

In this article, we will be discussing the various causes of gout. But first lets quickly define what this condition is. Definition of gout: gout can be classified as a kind of arthritis. This disease which affects joints especially those in the feet is characterized by;

  • Sudden attacks of pain in the affected joint.
  • Stiffening of the joint.
  • Swelling in the area around the joint.

Joints in the big toe are the most affected by this condition.  These painful attacks can happen repeatedly if the condition is left untreated. When gout is not treated in its early stages it can lead to damage of joints, deterioration of tendons and other tissues in the body.

The main causes of gout

The main cause of gout is uric acid a waste product that is found in our bloodstream. Uric acid is not toxic and does not pose any danger to our body. It is produced from the breakdown of purines which are normally found in some of the foods that we eat. The kidneys are responsible for generating about two-thirds of uric acid in our system while the remaining portion is produced by our digestive system.

Uric acid as a waste product in our body

Our blood contains a certain percentage of uric acid at any one time, this uric acid is usually filtered from the bloodstream by the kidneys then it is eliminated from our bodies through urine.

The problem begins when there is a buildup of excessive amounts of uric acid in your system or the rate at which it is being eliminated through urine is too little. This increase of uric acid in your system will encourage the formation of tiny urate crystals. Then the crystals usually start to accumulate mainly around joints and eventually cause a reaction with our immune system. This reaction with the immune system triggers sudden attacks of pain and inflammation at the affected area.

Risk factors that make you more susceptible to develop/cause gout

Some factors have been researched and seen to cause an increase in the levels of uric acid in a person’s blood, eventually leading to development of gout. These factors can be categorized as follows;

  • Factors related to your lifestyle for example diet.
  • Medical conditions for example high blood pressure are linked to increases of uric acid in our bodies.

Let us look at these factors in detail:

1. The sex of the individual

Research conducted in recent times indicates that men have higher chances of developing gout compared to women; they are up to 4 times more likely to develop gout. This can be attributed to the increase in levels of uric acid in their body during the puberty stage. Chances of women developing gout usually increases when they reach menopause. This is the main reason why women seem to develop gout later on in their lives.

2. Eating of foods with high amounts of purines

Here are some of the foods known to have high amounts of purines:

- Pork
- Beef
- Bacon
- Seafood
- Liver
- Kidneys
- Lamb

3. Intake of alcoholic drinks
Alcohol usually leads to an increased production of uric acid by the liver and also reduces the amount that is eliminated through urine.

In comparison, spirits and beers lead to production of more uric acid than wines.

4. Genetics and your family history
Research shows that you have higher chances of developing gout if there have been cases of gout in your family history. It has been noted that around 20 – 25 % of people having gout had another family member who had the condition.

5. Some types of medication
There are some medications known to lead to an increase in the levels of uric acid in your system resulting in development of gout. Examples of such medications include;

  • Aspirin related medicines; these are normally taken to treat headaches but have been known to increase uric acid levels in your body.
  • Medications administered during chemotherapy.
  • Niacin; taken by people suffering from high cholesterol.
  • Diuretics; used in treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure).

6. There are certain medical conditions that have been linked to cause gout. They include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Psoriasis
  • Reduced functionality in kidneys
  • Hyperlipidaemia; characterized by high cholesterol levels in the blood.

If you have gout, it would be advisable to try and avoid some of the things that cause gout. If you seek early medical intervention gout is a condition that can be successfully treated.

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