What causes gout, is a question most of us think we know the answer to. Gout is one of those diseases that many people have heard of and most would say it is a swelling affecting the big toe caused by over indulging in rich foods and too much alcohol, Well that would have been the explanation in Victorian times but now we know differently.
Gout can affect many areas of the body such as all the major joints of hands, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles as well as the traditional big toe. It is not only caused by overdoing the heavy port or sherry and if left untreated can lead to serious bone and kidney damage.
Basically the underlying reason to what causes gout is due to an increase in uric acid formation. Uric acid is created when our bodies digest and break down the food we consume which contains purine. Now purine is a chemical found in most plants and animals we use as food. It is more abundant in certain foods such as meat; Internal organs like liver and kidney products are especially purine-rich. It is also found in fish such as mackerel and herring, crab and many more. In vegetables, cauliflower, asparagus, peas and lentils and also cereals like bran, wheat germ and oatmeal, high levels of purine can be found. Increased alcohol consumption is another cause often associated with gout troubles due to high uric acid levels created after processing the alcohol.
It is quite normal and healthy for us to produce some uric acid as part of the digestive process. The uric acid is an antioxidant which aids preventing damage to blood vessel linings. However it is when any excess of this chemical is not filtered by your kidneys and excreted normally in the urine that build up occurs so this is what causes gout. Over time this excess is deposited and settles in the cartilage of joints as uric acid crystals. In turn this may cause inflammation, swelling and ultimately sever pain in the affected joints which is referred to as gout but is more realistically a similar form of osteoarthritis.
Asking what causes gout, the honest answer is a genetic flaw in a person's body. Some people are predisposed to suffer asthma or some other chronic illness due to a weakness in their system. Similarly many people can comfortably eat and drink large amounts of purine-rich food or drink with little effect. However, for anyone affected, particularly people with impaired kidney function, gout may be a consequence.
Left untreated gout can give rise to serious health problems. Quite apart from stiff and agonisingly painful joints serious kidney damage can occur. Deposits of uric acid crystals may block the delicate filtering mechanisms normally performed by the kidneys. Also kidneys stones may be formed by the high concentrations of the uric acid which could lead to surgery to remove them.
There are several prescription treatments available to sufferers who mostly have to continue treatment for life. To reduce the uric acid black cherry concentrate is a favourite all natural remedy many have used with overwhelming success. With knowledge of what causes gout attacks being triggered the sufferer is better armed to change their diet and lifestyle to drastically reduce attacks and control the severity of this condition.