What is Gout?

Gout is a condition that causes swelling, pain and redness in the joints (the spaces between bones). Gout is a type of arthritis (a condition that causes stiffness or swelling of the joints).

Gout can affect common joints such as the big toe, ankle and knee. It usually affects 1 joint at a time.

What Causes Gout?

  • Gout is caused by extra uric acid (a chemical made when your body breaks down food for energy) between the joints. Everyone makes uric acid, but some people who have Down syndrome make more than others.
  • Uric acid is made from a substance called purines. Diets rich in purines will make your uric acid levels higher.

What Causes the Pain and Swelling?

  • The pain and swelling are caused by a buildup of uric acid. Uric acid forms crystals that are sharp, pokey and painful.
  • When there is too much purines in your diet, it can cause lots of uric acid to form. The extra uric acid causes painful crystals in your joints.

What Are Common Symptoms of Gout?

  • Swelling, pain, redness or stiffness in the joints

    Together, these symptoms are called a gout attack. You usually have symptoms in the toes, ankles, knees, wrists or fingers.
  • Very bad pain in your side or back

    Gout can sometimes cause kidney stones (crystals made by waste building up in the kidneys).

How is Gout Treated?

There are 4 main treatments for gout:

  • Medications to prevent gout attacks
    These medications help keep uric acid levels low in the body.
    Example: Allopurinol
  • Medications to treat swelling and pain
    These medications make gout attacks shorter and less painful.
    Examples: Prednisone, colchicine or NSAIDS (Motrin® or indomethacin)
  • Weight loss
  • Eat a healthy diet with foods that are low in purines. Foods that are low in purines include fruits, vegetables and foods with lots of fiber, like brown rice, lentils, beans and whole wheat bread and cherries.

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