What is Gout?

What is Gout?

gout is something to be mindful of this holiday season. Christmas cookies and alcohol can all contribute to the development of gout, but what exactly is gout? Today, we take a closer look at the stages of gout and why it occurs.
Gout Development and Causes

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that develops in your joints due to high levels of uric acid in your blood. This acid can cause needle-like crystals to form in a joint, typically in the big toe. These crystals then rub against tender areas of the joint, causing inflammation and pain.

A poor diet and alcohol consumption both increase a person’s risk for developing gout, but they aren’t the only causes. Other factors that contribute to the development of gout include:

Related health conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and elevated cholesterol
Gender and Age (men and older individuals are at greater risk)
Elevated sugar intake or excess soda consumption
Individuals who have undergone bypass surgery

The Stages of Gout

There are a number of different ways gout can affect a person. Pain caused by gout can be chronic or intermittent, and it can come in different stages or forms. Here’s a look at some of the more common stages of gout.

Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia – As you can probably guess if you’re familiar with medical terms, this stage of gout means that a person has high levels of uric acid in their blood, but symptoms have yet to set in. Crystal formation is beginning, but they haven’t developed enough to cause symptoms.

Acute Gout Formation – This occurs when an acute activity causes movement in the joint that has developed uric acid crystals. When this occurs, the activity causes inflammation and pain. This can be caused by physical activity, an unhealthy meal or after a night of drinking. Symptoms usually last for 8-12 hours and generally wear off after a few days. That said, roughly 60 percent of people who suffer a gout attack have another flare up within one year.

Interval/Intermittent Gout – This is the period of time after a gout attack. You’ll still have small uric acid crystals in your joint, but they may be asymptomatic or causing minimal discomfort. More unhealthy choices could trigger another flare up, while smart choices can help resolve crystal formation in the joints.

Chronic Gout – If your uric acid levels remain high over an extended period, you may develop chronic gout. The time between attacks is shorter, and pain and discomfort may never truly resolve. In extreme cases, joint damage can occur, which can lead to limited range of motion or loss of mobility in your toes.