Who gets Gout?

You can't help but wonder: why me?

As you toss and turn, unable to get comfortable as the pain of gout seizes your toe or some other joint, you can't help but wonder: why me? Aside from the existential whys and wherefores, medical science has developed a pretty good profile of who is likely to contract the nasty form of arthritis known as gout. Knowing what predisposes one to gout is probably the best defense against future bouts of this painful joint disease.

First off, consider that gout is what happens when the blood contains too much uric acid. Uric acid is formed when the body processes purines, which occur naturally in the body and are also produced when one eats certain foods. The uric acid that the body can't excrete through urination tends to form sharp, needle-like crystals around the joints. That, in a nutshell, is gout.

Heavy drinkers are gout waiting to happen.

So, who gets gout? Heavy drinkers are gout waiting to happen. Excess consumption of alcohol makes for excess uric acid in the body. If you're a guy, don't drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day, or more than one if you're a woman.

Sometimes gout is as simple as a roll of the dice. Certain chronic medical conditions tend to cause excess uric acid to form in the body, especially when left untreated. Under this category are such chronic diseases as: hypertension, diabetes, high levels of fat and cholesterol; known as hyperlipidemia, and narrowing of the arteries; known as arteriosclerosis.

The other side of the coin is that certain medications prescribed by doctors for common medical conditions can, by themselves, cause gout. For example, the family of medicines known as thiazides, a type of diuretic  commonly used for hypertension and low dose aspirin can both cause excess uric acid to form in the blood. People who have undergone a transplant should be aware that anti-rejection medications can also have the same effect.

Gout runs in the best of families. If someone in your family has or had gout, you're more likely to contract the disease yourself.

Men get gout more than women, because women don't usually have as much uric acid in their blood as do men. After menopause, this changes, as women then have uric acid levels more closely approaching male levels. That means that men see gout at an earlier age than do women; between the ages of 40 and fifty, and in general, women tend to contract gout sometime in their fifties.