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What is gout?


Gout is a condition involving inflammatory arthritis. The so-called attacks often recur, and frequently affect the big toe, in which case the disease is also called podagra. Wrists, fingers, knees, and other joints can be affected by this arthritis. Other ways it may occur include as tophi, acute uric acid nephropathy, or kidney stones.


These are monosodium urate crystal deposits. Elevated uric acid levels in the patient's blood, over a long period of time, can end up causing them. Tophi can affect bones, cartilage, and joints, as well as other body parts. At times, they can even break the skin and be seen. If gout is not treated, tophi can appear within as little as three years, although ten years is closer to the normal amount of time before they show up. The singular form of the word is tophus.

Acute uric acid nephropathy

In this condition, kidney function quickly becomes worse. A high uric acid level in the urine, a condition known as hyperuricosuria, leads to this situation. Aside from a gout attack, it can also happen due to chemotherapy or radiation treatment for certain cancers, such as lymphoma and leukemia. It can also occur in some cancers prior to treatment, due to tumor cell lysis, in which dying cancer cells break down.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are solid collections of crystal that form from urinary minerals. Normally, they leave the body through the urine, but if they reach a sufficient size -- around 2 or 3 mm - then they may cause blockage. Multiple types of kidney stones exist, including: uric acid, calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, and others. Excessive amounts of uric acid in a person's urine can potentially lead to calcium ones.

Further details

Gout used to be known by names such as the disease of kings. Nowadays, it is increasing in frequency, at least in Western nations, where it is estimated that somewhere between 1 and 2 percent of the people will experience gout during their lifetimes.

What triggers the crystallization of uric acid is not understood well. Crystals can form even when uric acid levels are normal, however, when the levels are elevated this is more statistically likely to happen.

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