Gout Myths and Facts

Both men and women can get gout, but it's much more common in men. Gout usually develops in middle age or later in men and after menopause in women.

Uric acid can form when your body breaks down purines - a substance found in many foods. Normally uric acid dissolves in your blood and passes easily through your kidneys. But when too much uric acid builds up in your body, forming sharp crystals in and around your joints, you can have painful gout attacks.

Many people with gout say they have a tingling feeling in a joint right before a flare up starts. The pain can be so sudden and severe that it often wakes up people in the middle of the night. The affected joint is usually red, swollen, hot and painful to touch.

To find out if you have gout, your healthcare provider will draw fluid from an inflamed joint with a needle and look for uric crystals. The shape, color, and appearance of the crystals can help diagnose gout.

The most common place for a flare is the big toe. But you can also have an attack in your ankle, wrist, knee, elbow, or any other joint.

Your healthcare provider may give you a prescription for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory to help with the pain. Taking aspirin can be a bad idea. Aspirin can cause your uric acid levels to increase which can make a gout attack worse. If you can bear the pressure, an ice pack may offer some pain relief.

Some foods to avoid are sardines, anchovies, mussels and organ meats (liver and kidneys). Beer and liquor are also high in purines and should be avoided.