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Gout: What is it and how is it treated?

You may have heard someone say they have "the gout" or you may have been diagnosed with gout yourself. What is gout?

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis and is caused by the collection of crystals called tophi in the joints. Tophi forms when the body has a high uric acid level in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product in the body. A high uric acid level can be caused by dehydration, alcohol, or a diet high in purines. High purine foods include shellfish, red meats, and organ meat, such as liver. Some people will never get gout regardless of diet, while others will be prone to painful flare-ups.

If you find yourself the unlucky one with gout and flare-ups of gout, switching to a low-purine diet, staying hydrated, and avoiding alcohol may help prevent severity of flare-ups. Some people find taking a medication regularly can help prevent flare-ups as well or lessen the severity of flare-ups. Talk to your doctor about prevention of gout.

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