Gout is also referred to as a disease of affluence, as the onset of the disease is promoted by factors such as overweight, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. The cause of gout, however, is usually an innate metabolic defect. Typical of the disease are symptoms such as sore, red and swollen joints. The joint of the big toe is particularly frequently affected. By early and long-term therapy, gout can usually be treated well. Because of this, a chronic course rarely occurs.
Causes of gout
Gout (hyperuricemia) is a metabolic disease in which too much uric acid accumulates in the blood. It is thus formed more uric acid than excreted. An elevated uric acid level often causes no discomfort at the beginning. Only when the uric acid level continues to increase over time can it lead to a gout attack.
Gout affects men in the first place: over 80 percent of gout patients are male. The disease usually breaks out between their 40th and 60th birthday. Women, if at all usually only after the menopause of gout.
The disease is generally much more common in developed countries than in developing countries. This is mainly due to the different diets. Because purine-rich foods such as meat, offal and alcohol can promote the development of the disease.
Gout distinguishes between a primary and a secondary form. The primary form is a congenital metabolic defect caused by the kidney excreting too little uric acid.
In rare cases it can happen that too much uric acid is formed due to a genetic defect. This phenomenon, which occurs primarily in boys, is called Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. Common to both forms is that more uric acid is produced than delivered. As a result, more and more uric acid accumulates in the body.
5 facts about gout - © istockphoto, stockdevil
In the secondary form of gout hyperuremia is not congenital but is caused by other diseases or disorders. These either ensure that more uric acid is produced or that their delivery is inhibited.
If the release is inhibited, is often a kidney disease such as renal insufficiency the cause. Increased production, however, is usually caused by increased disintegration of the body's own cells. This is the case, for example, with leukemia.
Uric acid and purines
Uric acid forms in the body during the breakdown of purines. These may be on the one hand to the body's own purines that arise in the degradation of body cells. On the other hand, purines are also found in certain foods, including meat and sausage.
For an increased uric acid level, the following causes are therefore possible in summary:
- In the body too much uric acid is formed.
- Kidney excretes too little uric acid.
- Too many purines are ingested through the diet
Most gout patients have a congenital tendency to high uric acid levels. However, certain behaviors such as a purine-rich diet can be disease-promoting. Often, they can even trigger an acute attack of gout: For it is not unusual for complaints to occur after a sumptuous meal and plenty of alcohol consumption.