Poll

Which gout attack trigger is the most difficult for you to give up?

Submit

CAUSES

There’s a difference between the underlying cause of gout and the immediate factor (or factors) that triggers an acute attack. People who have gout have a condition called hyperuricemia, which is medical jargon for “high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream.”

Uric acid is formed as the body breaks down purines, a type of substance found in human cells and in many foods. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more. Others may produce normal amounts, but the kidneys, which filter the blood, can’t get rid of the uric acid quickly enough. Either way, uric acid builds up, and can cause problems.

In some people, high uric acid leads to a gout attack, causing internal inflammation, leading to symptoms – redness, swelling and episodes of severe joint pain.

expand article

But not everyone with high levels of uric acid gets gout. In fact, most people who have high levels of uric acid don’t have gout. Researchers are trying to figure out why. They do know, however, what the risk factors are for gout, and what triggers attacks.

to come

Who Gets Gout?

People who have high levels of uric acid in their blood are more likely to develop gout, and the risk becomes greater as levels of uric acid increase. But not everyone with high levels of uric acid gets gout, or gouty arthritis, as it is sometimes called. Researchers don’t know why that is.

For some, it may be problem of eliminating uric acid, and others may be genetically wired to over-produce it. Certain factors are associated with a higher risk of gout:

Your genes: If you have family members with gout, you’re more likely to get gout than someone with no family history.

expand article

Your other health conditions: High cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease may increase your risk.

The medications you take: Higher uric acid levels can be a side effect of medications such as diuretics (“water pills”) and anti-rejection drugs (such as cyclosporine) taken by transplant patients.

Your gender and age: Experts believe natural estrogen helps protect women from gout in early and mid life, so until age 60, men are more likely than women to have gout.

What you eat: Being overweight increases your risk, as does eating red meat and shellfish.

What you drink: Drinking alcohol, generally more than two glasses of alcohol a day (that’s one glass for women), consuming a lot of beer, and drinking sugary sodas puts you at a higher risk.

Your weight: People who are obese have a higher risk of gout. If they do get gout, it tends to happen at a younger age than it does in people of normal weight.

Gout Attack Triggers

A variety of different factors can trigger a gout attack. These include:

Medical health triggers:

Lifestyle health triggers:

  • Joint injury
  • Surgery or sudden, severe illness
  • Infection
  • Taking certain diuretic medications for high blood pressure, leg swelling (edema) or heart failure
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cyclosporine
  • Starting a uric acid-lowering treatment (Read why it may trigger an attack to start, but will lower your risk of future attacks!)
  • Crash diets and fasting
  • Eating large portions of certain foods high in purines (e.g. such as red meats and shellfish)
  • Dehydration
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Drinking sweet sodas