Table of Contents
What is Gout?
Gout is a severely painful condition that affects joints in the body. Gout is particularly common in the big toe and around half of the gout cases involve this joint. . However, gout can affect any joint, including fingers, elbows, knees, and feet. Gout is a form of arthritis and can cause pain so severe that it restricts putting weight on and moving the joint. Joint pain that is caused by gout is most painful during the first four to twelve hours after an attack. As well as severe joint pain, gout also causes lingering pain and discomfort that may last for many weeks. 
More than 8 million Americans suffer from a form of gout. This condition is more common in men and typically affects patients aged between 30 and 50.  Additionally, gout more commonly affects patients that have many other chronic conditions.  Gout may be recurrent and patients may suffer gout attacks multiple times a year. For recurrent gout, doctors may prescribe febuxostat or allopurinol. Other times, once gout is successfully treated, patients may never have gout symptoms again. To relieve pain caused by gout, colchicine is often prescribed.
Gout is caused when uric acid builds up in the bloodstream. This build-up then creates sharp urate crystals, which trigger an inflammatory response from the patient’s immune systems. Uric acid is typically removed from the body through urination. However, if the body produces too much uric acid, or removes too little then a build-up can occur. Keep reading to learn about the factors that increase the risk of gout.
Risk Factors for Gout
a. Age, Gender, and Genetics
Gout is a partially genetic condition. Studies have shown that people that have a close relative with gout are more likely to develop the condition themselves.  The specific genes involved mainly affect how uric acid is transported through the body.
Gout affects more than four times as many men as women. This is because men naturally have higher levels of uric acid in the body.  Gout typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50 in men and post-menopausal women. 
Diet is one of the most well-known risk factors of gout. Gout was historically called ‘the disease of kings’ as it usually affected the wealthy that could afford large amounts of meat and alcohol.
Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid, which is formed by breaking down purines. Purines naturally occur in the body but are also found in foods and drinks. Consuming foods and drinks high in purines increases the risk of gout as more uric is produced to break down these chemicals.
All foods contain purines but any food with a purine content higher than 200mg per 100g of food is considered high.  For gout patients or those at risk of gout, high purine foods should be avoided or only eaten in moderation. Foods that are high in purines include:
- Alcohol - particularly beer and red wine.
- Sugar - particularly in honey, syrup, and soft drinks.
- Meat – particularly red meat, organ meat, and wild game.
- Seafood – particularly tuna, mussels, scallops, and haddock.
Low purine foods contain less than 100mg of purines for every 100g of food. Common low-purine foods include: 
- Fruits, particularly cherries
- Vegetables including mushrooms, potatoes, and leafy greens.
- Legumes including lentils, tofu, and beans.
Additionally, gout patients should try to maintain a healthy diet. This includes limiting high-fat foods such as dairy, desserts, and fried foods. Gout patients should also drink at least eight glasses of water a day. This can help keep to the kidneys healthy and help to remove uric acid through urine. 
c. Body Weight
Body weight is often linked to diet and is a key factor for gout. People that are overweight or obese have a higher risk of gout. Studies show that patients that are obese tend to develop gout ten years earlier than people of a healthy weight.  Being overweight decreases the efficiency of the kidneys. This, therefore, reduces the amount of uric acid that is removed from the body by urinating.
People who have more ‘belly fat’ compared to other body fat may also be at risk for gout.  This is because the stomach produces more chemicals that cause inflammation than other areas of fat. Losing bodyweight can help improve the symptoms of gout.
d. Medical Conditions
Many people with gout also suffer from other chronic conditions. More than half of gout patients have five or more chronic conditions.  Untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and kidney disease are common conditions amongst gout patients and can increase the risk of the condition. 
As well as other health conditions, some prescription medications, including aspirin and blood pressure medications, may also increase the risk of gout.
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