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Gout – A Look at the “Rich Man’s” Disease

What is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that affects mostly men. Arthritis is a general term for inflammation of joints which causes them to be painful and swollen and can be caused by different factors. Gout was historically referred to as “a disease of the kings” or “the rich man’ s disease” due to the expensive diet (meat and lots of alcohol) that was associated with it.

What causes gout?

Gout is caused by accumulation of uric acid in the body. This leads to deposition of uric acid crystals inside and around the joints causing severe pain and swelling.
The uric acid we refer to is formed when substances called purines are broken down by your body. Purines are made by our bodies but can also be found in our diet especially in meats and sea foods. Ideally the kidney removes this uric acid, however if you’re producing very high amounts or if the kidney is not functioning well, the uric acid accumulates in the body leading to deposition of the crystals.

What are the signs and symptoms of Gout?

Gout can affect any joint in the body but it’s more common in those found in the hands and legs. It also can attack more than one joint at the same time. These joints include:

  • Ankles
  • Toes
  • Fingers
  • Wrists
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Heel
  • Instep (the raised part in the middle of your foot)

Signs and symptoms of gout include:

  • Painful joints
  • Swelling at the affected joints
  • Redness of the joint and the area around the affected joint
  • Feeling hot at the joint affected

You should always see your doctor if you suspect you’ve Gout. Early diagnosis and treatment of gout can prevent further pain and other complications.

What increases your risk of developing Gout?

Factors that may increase your risk of developing gout include:

1. Diet

Consuming a diet that’s high in purines increase your risk of developing gout. Foods that are rich in purines include:  red meat, organ meats (kidney, liver, heart etc.) and seafood (oily fish, shell fish etc.)

beer and meat

2. Drinking of alcohol

Taking too much alcohol increases uric acid levels in the body. Beer and spirits have a more effect in this than wine.

3. Family history of Gout

Studies have shown that gout can be inherited.

4. Health conditions

Some conditions increase the risk of developing gout. They include: hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, high blood cholesterol and osteoarthritis

5. Medication

Some medication may increase uric acid levels in the body increasing one’s risk of developing gout.

6. Sugary Drinks

Some studies have linked high consumption of sugary soft drinks with an increased risk of developing gout.

Next: Prevention and Management of Gout

Medical Disclaimer


Nutrition Point

Nutrition Point is a now defunct blog that was co-authored and maintained by the editor of this site from 2016 to 2022.


    1. I've added the contact details in the About page. Thanks for reminding, I had forgotten about that. Best wishes to you too!

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