What Is Gout?

Here is the standard definition found in Wikipedia:

• Gout (also known as podagra when it involves the big toe) is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis-a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected, in around half of all cases. However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate nephropathy. It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood which crystallize and are deposited in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.

What Gout Is, in the lives of millions of people around the world may be expressed in a different fashion that would commonly sound something more like this:

• Having Gout and getting Gout Attacks is one of the most, if not the most, painful and debilitating experiences I've ever had. My ankle swelled up and turned shiny and hot and cherry-red. I don't understand how I got it or where it came from but I live in dread, or outright fear, of it coming back. The last time I had it, I didn't even want to breathe because even breathing made it hurt so bad.

Does that description really explain what Gout is? No. But did it give a better understanding about what Gout is? Probably Yes.

Here is a more simplified explanation:

• Gout occurs when too much Uric Acid builds up in the body. The excess Uric Acid then finds a joint to deposit in and crystallizes. The crystals are like tiny shards of glass that cause a great deal of inflammation and heat in the joint and surrounding tissue.

Hyperuricemia is when there is abnormally high levels of Uric Acid in the blood. This may or may not result in Acute Gouty Arthritis or Gout Attack. Many people have above average Uric Acid levels and never develop Gout.
When Uric Acid levels become unacceptably high and remain there, the condition is then termed Chronic Gout.

Another less common form of Gout is called Tophaceous Gout. After Chronic Gout has been allowed to develop unchecked and unattended, Tophus or the plural, Tophi, slowly start to form. Chalky or cottage cheese-like formations appear under the skin, in and around the joints or on other parts of the body like the ears.

Tophus is Latin for "stone". These "stones" are deposits of monosodium urate crystals. They are the extreme expression of Gout and can also cause major joint dysfunction and disability. Monosodium Urate Crystals can also form to cause Kidney Stones, linking the dangers of Gout with Renal Dysfunction and Complications.

What Causes Gout?

The more important question is: What Causes High Levels of Uric Acid? More precisely: What Causes An Overly Acidic Inner Bodily Terrain or Acidosis?

From the western medicine point of view, approaching Gout as simply an unacceptable high level of Uric Acid in the body and blood is enough. Limit or manage the production of Uric Acid and the job is done. There are different ways to accomplish this, as well as promotion of greater excretion and improved Kidney function which is the topic of another article.

Isolating and treating Gout from this perspective is often times completely acceptable for a large percentage of the population, for another percentage of the population it is not. To approach Gout in this manner, the condition is temporarily satisfied but the Cause has not been sufficiently addressed.

A great deal of study, experiments and testing have been done and more are currently underway to determine the Genetic Predisposition of developing the condition of Gout. Currently, available statistics vary between 10 - 20% as a marker for those who have a genetic component for their susceptibility to develop Gout.

Gout occupies greater stature in the list of Lifestyle Related Diseases. Like all other diseases and conditions in this category, Gout stems from an overly acidic body chemistry.

Acid-forming or acid-producing diets, unmanaged levels of Stress, environmental pollutants, smoking, and negative thought processes are a few of the ways that facilitate the production, build-up, and accumulation of toxic acid wastes in various parts of the body.

In regards to Gout, the body in all it's wisdom, looks for places to store this excess toxicity to protect the vital organs by depositing it in the joints for later removal. That "later", as in the case of Obesity and excess fat, never really comes.

Treatments that only concern themselves with limiting the production of Uric Acid fail to address the mounting overall condition of acidity that is continuing to increase many other metabolic acids and substances. This "ripening" of the acidic inner terrain is conducive for the proliferation of not only Gout but Heart Disease, Diabetes, Cancer and a whole host of other degenerative diseases as well.

Poor Blood Oxygenation can also lead to increased levels of Uric Acid being fed into the blood stream. The lower our blood oxygen levels, the more tendency there is for acidity and the formation of Uric Acid.

An extreme example of this is Sleep Apnea, a condition where someone stops breathing in their sleep for prolonged periods of time. New studies are showing that due to the cessation of breathing during periods of sleep, the lack of oxygen or Hypoxia leads to the generation of Uric Acid. This is becoming a more well-accepted conclusion for why most Gout Attacks happen at night and especially in the early morning hours.


Gout reveals itself by the evidence of elevated Uric Acid levels. The Cause of Gout is the onset of Acidosis.

Author's Bio: 

In and attempt to define gout, the conversation always gravitates toward the causes of gout. Purine rich foods are often cited as the cause, however foods high in purines are only part of the picture.

Bert Middleton, The Gout Killer!