Gout is primarily caused by uric acid, a natural by-product of the body’s digestive system. Uric acid is created during the breakdown of food in the digestive system, and it is supposed to be excreted thereafter. Due to various reasons, however, this uric acid isn’t properly removed from the body by the kidneys. It then starts to build up in the blood and is eventually deposited in the joints of the body. The reason why uric acid tends to accumulate in the joints is because of the temperatures being lower compared to the rest of the body.
When that happens, sharp microscopic crystals of uric acid are formed within the joints, leading to symptoms of gout. Some of the classic symptoms of gout include pain, swelling, and tenderness in the joints which signify the creation of uric acid crystals in the joints.
There are several reasons that cause uric acid levels to build up significantly, and most of them can be avoided. However, there are certain risk factors that place an individual at a higher risk of gout either due to other medical conditions or medications used.
High blood pressure and obesity
These two conditions usually occur in tandem, whereby obesity often leads to a high blood pressure. These conditions may render the body unable to properly excrete uric acid, too, and that leads to gout.
This can either be caused by high blood pressure or occur genetically. Either way, it places the affected individual at risk of acquiring gout.
This one is obvious – the kidney is responsible for removing uric acid from the bloodstream and transferring it to the bladder for excretion through urine. When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, though, uric acid is not efficiently excreted and starts to build up in the blood.
This is a condition that affects the joints in the body, and may also contribute to the formation of gout.
Just like food, medication can also lead to increased levels of uric acid.
High blood pressure medication
High blood pressure can be managed with various medication but the use of beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors may increase uric acid levels. Water tablets (diuretics) are also a risk factor for gout formation.
Aspirin is a blood thinner, used to reduce the risk of blood clots, but it can also increase your chances of gout.
There are some chemotherapy medications that also increases the risk of gout, but these can be avoided as the doctor is prescribing the medication. The doctor is supposed to evaluate your risk of gout and prescribe medication that won’t create additional problems.
Other causes of gout
What you take in will affect what is produced, and certain foods will cause high levels of uric acid to be created. Red meat, seafood, and offal (organ meat) are some of the foods that increase the risk of gout.
Beer and spirits can greatly increase the risk of gout and should be limited or avoided completely. Wine, on the other hand, does not have such an enormous impact, but should be limited nonetheless.
Sodas and sugary drinks
Soft drinks that have high levels of sugar have been shown to increase the risk of gout, and so do sweet fruits that have high levels of fructose. You can stick to diet sodas and less sweet fruits to avoid this.
Above all, gout has been shown to be more prevalent within those with affected relatives. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can avoid, but prevention measures are available that lower the risk of the development of gout to severe levels.
- Gout is caused by an accumulation of uric acid in the body.
- Uric acid is a natural by-product of the body's digestive system.
- Uric acid is normally excreted from the human body through the kidneys.