Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream. Over time, deposits of uric acid crystals collect around bone or cartilage. The build-up of uric acid may cause no symptoms at first. If the area becomes inflamed, a gout attack occurs, with swelling, redness, and intense pain.

Acute gout attacks can be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, or more powerful prescription medicines. But after a first attack, there is about an 80% chance of another flare-up within the next two years.

Several medications are approved to lower uric acid levels and reduce the risk of flare-ups. But in patients with serious medical conditions in addition to gout, effective treatment can be difficult. Some of the most common co-existing conditions that complicate treatment are:


When Gout Becomes a Chronic Problem

When uric acid levels in the bloodstream remain too high, more and more crystals are deposited. Gout can become a chronic condition, leading to painful and disfiguring damage to joints.

The course of gout varies considerably from person to person. Signs that chronic gout may be getting worse include:

  • More frequent and longer-lasting flare-ups of gouty arthritis: As chronic gout gets worse, flare-ups occur more often and last longer. Over time, the inflammation causes permanent damage to bone and cartilage.
  • Flare-ups in other parts of the body: In about half of all patients with gout, the first attack occurs in the joint at the base of the big toe. When chronic gout occurs, other joints may be affected, including the ankle and knee.
  • Nodules forming under the skin: Uric acid crystals may begin to be deposited in soft tissue, forming nodules called tophi. Tophi commonly appear on the hands, fingers, elbows, and ears, but they can appear almost anywhere on the body. Tophi can be very disfiguring. Chronic gout is sometimes referred to as tophaceous gout, because of the presence of tophi.
  • Kidney problems: Uric acid is normally eliminated by the kidneys. Kidney disease can cause uric acid build-up and gout. But excess uric acid can also damage kidneys. Kidney problems associated with chronic gout -- and signs that chronic gout is getting worse -- include gouty kidney, kidney stones, and kidney failure.

What to Eat When You Have Gout

If you have gout, diet matters. What to eat & avoid if you have gout.
View slideshow