Ask the Doctors: Gout; Thumb Surgery


Q: I’ve had several gout attacks. Can I lower my uric acid level by changing my diet or do I need medication?

>A: Gout is a form of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid, which is produced by the normal breakdown of cells in the body and foods that contain purines. It is eliminated by the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys. If they are not efficient at this task, uric acid can build up in the bloodstream. When the level goes above 6.8 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), uric acid can leave the bloodstream and deposit in other parts of the body, primarily in the joints of the feet, ankles and knees. These deposits can occasionally break down and form crystals, which cause a gout attack. The joint suddenly becomes swollen, red, tender and painful.

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