Gout is a silent disease. It's possible to have gout and not experience symptoms for years. In fact, while some people with gout may have only a few attacks in their lifetime, others with a more severe version may develop painful, crippling, gouty arthritis within 10 years of the initial attack, unless properly treated.
Gout is caused by a disturbance of the uric-acid metabolism of your body. Briefly, some food we eat ... and other substances in our bodies ... naturally convert to uric acid. However, if our body doesn’t properly process uric acid, it forms tiny pointed crystals that may be deposited in the joints of the toes, ankles and knees--along with other parts of the body--where they produce inflammation, swelling and pain.
The onset of gout may be partly due to heredity, but obesity, alcohol consumption and poor eating habits also play a role. If left untreated, the deposits of uric acid crystals will become larger and more debilitating. Attacks may become more frequent and painful, and eventually can affect the kidneys and other organs.
Although acute attacks of gout usually last several days and are accompanied by swelling, redness and severe pain, you can have gout without these attacks.
If you're experiencing pain and swelling of a joint--most often at the base of the big toe--you may have gout and should check with your podiatrist for a professional evaluation.
With proper medication, gout is one of the most easily and successfully treated of all the arthritic diseases. So don't suffer needlessly.