What are the Symptoms of Gout?

Sheri Cyprus

Gout is a rheumatic disease and its symptoms can be extremely painful. Shard-like deposits of uric acid can build up in connective tissue, such as in the joints between bones, and cause inflammatory arthritis. The primary noticeable symptoms of gout are lumpy uric acid deposits around the joints and the edge of the ear.

Full fat dairy products can exacerbate gout.
Full fat dairy products can exacerbate gout.

About 75% of gout patients experience pain in the big toe. Joint pains in the foot such as in the ankles, heels and instep are also common symptoms, as are joint pains in the knees. Gout can also cause joint pain in the elbows, wrists and fingers. About 5% of all gout cases are arthritis related.

Many types of meat, especially those high in fat can contribute to gout.
Many types of meat, especially those high in fat can contribute to gout.

Sometimes, inflammatory symptoms are not actually caused by gout, but of a false gout called chondrocalcinosis, or pseudo-gout. Calcium, not uric acid, builds up in pseudo-gout. Calcium phosphate crystals are not as serious as uric acid crystal build up is to the body.

A blood test can determine high uric acid levels, which can lead to gout.
A blood test can determine high uric acid levels, which can lead to gout.

Uric acid deposits are serious symptoms of gout, as the kidneys can be affected and kidney stones may result. Uric acid occurs in the body when purines are being broken down. Purines are found in many foods including liver, anchovies, dried legumes and gravy and are also part of human tissue. Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the bloodstream and is eliminated from the body in urine. If the uric acid is built up too much and not eliminated, hyperuricemia, or an excess of uric acid, results.

Gout most commonly affects the big toe.
Gout most commonly affects the big toe.

While hyperuricemia is one of the symptoms of gout, it is usually detectable only through medical testing. Hyperuricemia itself is not cause for alarm; it is only harmful when the excess uric acid builds up and forms into crystals in the body. It is the painful, lumpy build up of crystallized uric acid around joints that is one of the major serious symptoms of the condition.

A person with gout may have lumpy uric acid deposits around the joints and edge of their ears.
A person with gout may have lumpy uric acid deposits around the joints and edge of their ears.

Besides the pain caused by the uric acid deposits, some other symptoms of gout are stiffness and redness around the joints. A feeling of heat in the joints is also one of the more common symptoms. Stress can bring on symptoms, as can alcohol, drugs and/or other illnesses. Gout attacks may occur months or years apart, but the attacks can become more intense and more frequent over time.

Between the attacks, gout sufferers may experience no symptoms of gout and this is called the "interval stage." Kidney damage is one of the internal symptoms and often occurs in the gout sufferer after ten years or more of living with the disease. Chronic tohpaceous gout is an advanced stage of gout that can be very disabling.

Kidney stones can be a symptom of gout due to uric acid deposits.
Kidney stones can be a symptom of gout due to uric acid deposits.

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Discussion Comments

pocurana

To avoid high levels of uric acids in the body, people with gout or people that are at risk of getting gout shouldn't eat lots of foods that are high in purines. Also, there are certain things that I've heard is actually associated with lower uric acid levels like vitamin c, cherries, coffee, and nuts.

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