Gout and diabetes are closely linked conditions, although they are medically different. Having one condition elevates the risk of developing the other. While the mechanism that causes gout in diabetic patients is well understood, the link between having gout and developing diabetes is less clear, although a 2008 study in Britain showed that after all other risk factors were eliminated, men with gout were at increased risk of developing type II diabetes later in life.
Gout is a disease of the joints that has been present in human populations for thousands of years. In people with gout, the body retains uric acid crystals and they build up in the joints, particularly the big toe, causing pain and inflammation. Diabetes is an umbrella term for a family of related metabolic conditions, also ancient in origin. The condition involved in the gout and diabetes link is type II diabetes, where the body does not produce enough insulin or does not respond to insulin. While these conditions may not seem related at first glance, the diseases have a long history of interconnection.
In patients with type II diabetes, uric acid levels in the blood can rise. Because diabetes contributes to poor circulation, the uric acid can build up in the extremities and gravitate to the joints, causing gout. Having diabetes can cause gout if the diabetes is poorly controlled. Patients with diabetes who want to avoid gout and other potential complications of diabetes must monitor their blood sugar levels carefully and be aggressive about treating their condition. Regular visits to a diabetes specialist are recommended so patients can be evaluated for early signs of complications.
Gout and diabetes are also linked in the other direction; having gout appears to put people at increased risk for developing diabetes. The reason for this is not clearly known. It may be due to contributing factors to gout like diet that have also been known to cause diabetes, or due to a link between other metabolic disorders and gout. Patients with gout are less likely to develop diabetes if they manage their gout carefully and follow recommended treatment regimens.
Many conditions, like gout and diabetes, appear unlinked on the surface but are actually closely related. Researching these links is important for management, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and understanding how some conditions elevate the risk of others can also allow patients to be on the lookout for early warning signs.