Gout: Who's at Risk?

More than a million people in the United States suffer from gout attacks. Gout is a painful disease that swells up the joints, often the big toe. But other joints in the arm, feet and legs can also be affected. Gout predominately strikes men. In fact, men are nine times more vulnerable to gout than women.

The risk of gout increases with age, and for men the risk starts after puberty and peaks at the age of 75. In women, gout attacks often appear after menopause. If you have a high level of uric acid in your blood, a condition known as hyperuricemia your risk of developing gout also elevates. However, only a small percentage of people with hyperuricemia will actually develop gout.

Other than gender, age, and hyperuricemia, a couple other factors may also increase your risk of getting gout. So, itís worthwhile to familiarize yourself with these factors to lower your risk of developing this painfully crippling disease or to reduce the number of gout attacks you have and to find a treatment thatís right for you.

Genetic Factors: One in four suffers of gout report a history of gout in their families. Individuals in these families tend to lack the enzyme that helps break down purines in food, which leads to a build up of uric acid in the body.

Gout Causing Food: Foods rich in purines such as meat, trout, mackerel, beans, lentils, and peas, can elevate the risk of gout.

Alcohol: If you consume two alcoholic beverages a day or more, your risk of gout increases. Since alcohol prevents uric acid from leaving your body, causing the uric acid crystals to deposit in your joints.

Obesity and Weight Loss: Excessive eating leads to an increase of uric acid in your body. Extra weight also puts pressure on your joints, making you vulnerable to other joint-related illnesses. Losing a lot weight in a short amount of time also prevents your body from properly eliminating uric acid.

Gout and Health: You have a high risk of gout if you suffer from certain health problems including: high blood pressure, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia.