Top symptoms include:
- Severe joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Joint stiffness
Usually associated with portly Victorian gentlemen, gout is alive and well in modern times -- and affects post-menopausal women, too. Gout occurs when urate crystals (formed from high levels of uric acid in the blood) concentrate inside a joint. It most often strikes the big toe. But as a type of arthritis (it's even called "gouty arthritis"), gout also affects foot, ankle, hand, and wrist joints. Risk factors include being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, having high blood pressure or kidney disease, and taking certain medications -- all of which increase uric acid
levels. Medications can help reduce the pain and swelling, as well as the risk of joint damage, and lifestyle changes can keep attacks to a minimum.
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