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Arthritis Health Center

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Gout - Cause

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia). The exact cause of hyperuricemia sometimes isn't known, although inherited factors (genes) seem to play a role.

Uric acid may form crystals that build up in the joints. This causes the pain and other symptoms.

Recommended Related to Arthritis

Understanding Gout -- Diagnosis & Treatment

To diagnose gout, blood and urine tests are needed but may not always give the answer. Demonstrating high uric acid in the blood is essential, but you can have a high level of uric acid without having gout. Or you may have normal uric acid levels at the time of a gout attack. To confirm the presence of gout, fluid drawn from the affected joint may be examined under a special polarizing microscope to see if it shows the characteristic crystals. X-rays are useful in confirming long-term or chronic...

Read the Understanding Gout -- Diagnosis & Treatment article > >

Gout can seem to flare up without specific cause. Or it can be brought on by:

  • Certain conditions related to diet and body weight, such as being overweight, eating a diet rich in meat and seafood (high-purine foods), and drinking too much alcohol.
  • Medicines that may increase uric acid concentration, such as regular use of aspirin or niacin or using medicines that reduce the amount of salt and water in the body (diuretics).
  • Major illness or certain medical conditions, such as rapid weight loss or high blood pressure.
  • Surgery.
  • Having been born with a rare condition that causes high blood uric acid levels. People with Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome or Lesch-Nyhan syndrome have a partial or complete deficiency in an enzyme that helps to control uric acid levels.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 30, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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