Gout is a disease that affects the joints. Left untreated, it can lead to painful foot deformity and even kidney problems. The good news is that by treating gout early, you can relieve pain and help prevent future problems. Gout can usually be treated with medication and proper diet. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.

What Causes Gout?

Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid (a waste product made by the body). The uric acid forms crystals that collect in the joints, bringing on a gout attack. If you have many gout attacks, crystals may form large deposits called tophi. Tophi can damage joints and cause deformity.

Who Is at Risk for Gout?

Men are more likely to have gout than women. But women can also be affected, mostly after menopause. Some health problems, such as obesity and high cholesterol, make gout more likely. And some medications, such as diuretics (“water pills”), can trigger a gout attack. People who drink a lot of alcohol are at high risk for gout. Certain foods can also trigger a gout attack.

Foods That Trigger a Gout Attack

To help prevent a gout attack, avoid these foods:

  • Alcohol (beer, red wine)

  • Certain meats (red meat, processed meat, turkey)

  • Organ meats (kidney, liver, sweetbread)

  • Shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp, scallop, mussel)

  • Certain fish (anchovy, sardine, herring, mackerel)

Medical Reviewer: Cineas, Sybil MD Last Annual Review Date: 2008-01-01T00:00:00-07:00 Copyright: © 2000-2010 The StayWell Company, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Your Guide to Gout


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Gout – a painful type of arthritis – often first takes aim at the big toe. It also attacks other parts of the body, including fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, and heels, causing stiff and swollen joints.