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Health Library


What Is Gout?

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that causes sudden, severe joint pain, swelling, and tenderness. Gout most commonly affects the large joint of the big toe, but it can affect any joint.

Common Causes

Gout is a crystal-associated arthritis that can happen when your body has high levels of uric acid. This can occur if your body cannot excrete uric acid, or if your body makes too much uric acid. Uric acid crystals deposit in joints and lead to inflammation.

Certain foods and drinks increase the risk for gout. These include shellfish, red meats, beer, liquor, and soda. Dairy products and cherries can help to decrease the risk for a gout episode.


A physical examination, X-rays, and other tests will help to determine if you have gout. The uric acid crystals can be seen in joint fluid examined with a special microscope.


Common treatments for an acute gout episode include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen and naproxen), colchicine, and prednisone. Medications including allopurinol and febuxostat are used long-term to lower uric acid levels and to help prevent recurrent attacks and joint damage from gout.

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