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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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October 2003

Q. What is a good diet for a person who is not overweight but has gout?

A. Gout is a well-known cause of acute arthritis. These attacks are sudden and very painful, most commonly affecting the big toe, but other joints can be affected as well. The attacks are caused by uric acid crystals being deposited in or around the affected joints. Acute attacks are treated with various anti-inflammatory drugs, and further evaluation is then done to determine if uric acid levels in the blood are high, or if excess amounts are being filtered by the kidneys. Preventive treatment is then aimed at reducing uric acid production, or increasing the amounts excreted by the kidneys. Kidney stones are another complication of gout.

It is estimated that gout affects nearly 1 in every 1000 persons, most commonly men over age 40. Risk factors include genetics, overweight, excess alcohol intake, lead exposure, certain medications (diuretics, salicylates, and others), and a diet high in purines (liver, dried peas or beans, and others). Prevention should address all of these factors.



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