What Causes Gout?
A gout attack may seem to appear out of nowhere, but the truth is, this condition is caused by several things that have been happening to your body for a long period of time. Some are even born with it!
In this article, we will discuss the many causes of gout. Some of them are obvious while some may surprise you! Gout opens you to a world of mystery where you have to figure out precisely what’s causing you those dreaded flares.
Before we talk about the causes, let’s first define gout. It’s a chronic disease caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. It starts as hyperuricemia, but over time it can lead to gout.
Uric acid naturally forms in the body after consuming purines found in food. The kidneys eliminate this, but when the kidneys aren't working properly, a buildup happens to cause a painful flare in your joints particularly the big toe.
The Many Causes of Gout
The triggers for gout can be classified into three categories: health triggers, medical triggers, and lifestyle triggers.
If you have a family history of gout, you may be more likely to develop gout later in life. If you are African American or an Asian Pacific Islander, you are at more risk for gout.
While it’s true that lifestyle changes can have a great impact on your health, there is not much you can do to prevent gout if it’s already in your genes. You can rejoice to know that this disease was not self-inflicted. This is a comforting thought considering that most gout sufferers put a lot of blame on themselves for having this condition.
For religiously healthy people out there, this may seem like bad news but fear not because your genes don’t have to dictate what health conditions you will develop later on life. In fact, only five percent of all diseases are caused by our genes.
If you are already leading a healthy lifestyle, you are on the right track to protecting yourself from developing gout. You may not be able to control your genetic makeup, but you can still control the environment you are exposed to.
Only five percent of gout sufferers are women while the rest are men. This is why gout is considered a male disease. If you are an adult male between the ages 30 to 50 then you are at risk for gout. Men produce more uric acid than women making them more at risk for gout. In rare cases, women will develop gout after menopause as uric acid levels tend to rise during this time.
Fructose consumption also affects men and women differently. High fructose intake doesn’t have much of a significant impact on women’s uric acid levels as it does on men. The culprit? Estrogen. This hormone helps the kidneys remove the uric acid in the body.
Women produce more estrogen than men, but after hitting 50, production of this hormone drastically decreases making women more susceptible to gout. The effect of sugar on premenopausal women becomes almost the same as men’s as their kidneys don’t have much support from estrogen.
Hormone replacement therapy is something women can do to prevent their risk for gout. However, this option is not available to men. Too much of estrogen in males can cause a hormonal imbalance leading to erectile dysfunction, infertility, and breast tissue growth.
This is a disease that’s most commonly associated with gout. Having kidney problems means you aren’t able to efficiently get rid of waste in the body. As a result, you will experience high levels of uric acid in the blood leading to gout symptoms.
Detecting kidney disease in its early stages is hard. Having gout could be a sign that you may have kidney problems. If gout runs in your family, make sure to have yourself tested for this condition to avoid complications. Something as small as kidney stones, if left untreated, can lead to an infection, or worse, damage.
Next to kidney diseases is diabetes which is a lack of insulin production or response to insulin. Studies have shown that insulin resistance plays a role in gout development. If you have hyperuricemia, your insulin resistance might worsen. Both contribute to making each other worse.
Most diabetics experience poor blood circulation in the limbs, making it easy for uric acid to build up in joints around that area. You’ll need to control your blood sugar to maintain low uric acid. This means lowering your fructose intake, which is another cause of gout (but more on that later).