Eating a diet rich in red meat and seafood and drinking beverages sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose) increase uric acid levels, increasing the risk of gout. Drinking alcohol, especially beer, also increases the risk of gout. Gout is caused by a condition known as hyperuricemia, in which there is too much uric acid in the body. Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines, which are found in the body and in the food you eat.
When there is too much uric acid in the body, uric acid crystals (monosodium urate) can build up in joints, fluids, and body tissues. Hyperuricemia doesn't always cause gout, and hyperuricemia without symptoms of gout doesn't need treatment. Learn more about the causes of gout. Gout is caused by the formation of small crystals in the joints, causing severe pain, tenderness, and swelling.
Meat (especially offal, such as liver and sweetbreads) and shellfish (such as fish and shellfish) can be high in chemicals called purines. When the body breaks them down, the level of uric acid increases. Soft drinks and fruit sugar-flavored juices, such as high-fructose corn syrup, can cause outbreaks of gout. Gout occurs in people who have high levels of uric acid, also known as urate, in their blood.
Urate is created every day when our bodies break down purines. Purines are chemicals that are naturally created in our bodies, but they are also present in certain foods. Most people with gout will eventually need to have a ULT, so you may want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this treatment with your doctor as soon as you've been diagnosed with gout. Medications to lower uric acid levels, known as urate reducing therapy (ULT), are generally recommended if you have recurrent attacks of gout or if you have complications from gout.
Most of the damage and complications caused by gout can be stopped if you take medications to lower urate levels and have a healthy diet and lifestyle. Many people avoid outbreaks of gout and can reduce the severity of their symptoms, and may even stop having gout. Treatment for gout includes pain relief to help you cope with a gout attack, as well as medications and lifestyle changes to prevent new attacks.