Elevated levels of uric acid in the blood cause gout. Uric acid is a waste product resulting from the breakdown of cells and proteins. The higher levels may be due to the body simply producing more uric acid or the kidneys not breaking all of it down.
Symptoms of gout include inflammation, swelling of the joint, extreme and sudden pain, and warmth and redness in the affected area. These are symptoms of the acute stage. During chronic stage it may just feel stiff and sore.
A number of things may trigger a gout episode. According to Healthscout.com, "drinking too much alcohol, eating too much of the wrong foods, surgery, sudden and severe illness, crash diets, injury to a joint and chemo" are all potential causes of gout.
As of December 14, 2009 there is no cure for gout. All you can do is lead as healthy a lifestyle as possible. Drink lots of water, avoid foods high in purine and alcohol. Lose weight. Ask your doctor about medications to relieve pain as it needs to be customized to the patient.
Gout can be extremely debilitating. According to a survey published in Medicalnewstoday.com, "The majority of surveyed gout patients reported that a gout flare has a major or extreme impact on walking (75 percent), putting on shoes (71 percent), and participating in recreational sports and activities (70 percent). About one in five (21 percent) employed gout patients say that they have missed work in the last year due to a gout flare, with 23 percent of those respondents saying they missed seven work days or more."