Gout is a metabolic disease where a blood chemical called uric acid elevates and forms crystals that deposit painfully in a joint, most commonly the big toe joint. Gout comes on suddenly, often overnight and it is associated with extreme pain, redness, swelling and disability. The onset of gout may be partly due to heredity, but obesity, alcohol consumption and eating foods high in uric acid plays a role. Acute attacks of gout if left untreated may last weeks but with professional care involving injected and oral medications and supportive dressings and special shoes these same attacks can be limited to a few days. After the attack, consultation with your family physician will help determine the underlying cause and set up a plan of prevention against future attacks.