Gout is a form of arthritis that includes sudden and severe attacks of pain in the joints. Gout can affect the joints of the arms and the legs, but is most commonly found in the joints of the big toe.
Gout is caused when the body has an overabundance of uric acid. Uric acid, a natural chemical in the body, comes from the breakdown of genetic material in the cells. It may also come from certain foods, such as red meat or anchovies.
Uric acid is typically processed by the kidneys and exits the body in the urine. If the body produces too much uric acid, or if the kidneys do not excrete enough uric acid, the acid develops into urate crystals within the joint. These sharp crystals within the joint can lead to pain and inflammation.
Gout is typically found in men more than women, though it is also common in women after menopause. Gout is also common in people who are overweight or who drink alcohol.
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