What is Gout?

Gout is a common and painful type of arthritis which occurs when uric acid crystals are deposited in the joints. The body reacts to these deposits causing inflammation. Gout usually affects one joint at a time, especially the joint of the big toe. It may also affect the knee, ankle, foot, hand, wrist and elbow.

Why does gout occur?

People with gout have increased uric acid in the blood. If the body cannot get rid of this, it may lead to the excess uric acid being deposited as crystals into the joint spaces. Uric acid is a substance produced by the body when cells and proteins are broken down. A relatively small amount of uric acid also comes from the food we eat.

Who does gout affect?

Gout affects mostly men. A first attack generally occurs between the ages of 40 and 50, although can occur at any age. Women with gout usually develop it after menopause. Gout can also be inherited.

Gout can be aggravated or triggered by:
Fluid tablets
Being overweight
Severe sudden illness
Crash dieting
Not drinking enough water.

What are the symptoms of gout?

The following symptoms occur in the joint with an attack of gout:

Attacks of gout can occur very quickly and, if left untreated, may last for a week. Following an initial attack, it may be months or years before another occurs. Without the correct management, attacks can become more frequent and last longer. However, proper diagnosis and management usually result in gout being well controlled. Contact your doctor for information regarding diagnosis.


Medication is a key strategy in the effective management of gout. Which medication is dependent on the stage of the disease.

The following areas also need to be considered in the overall management of gout:

Dietary information for the treatment of gout

1. Limit rich sources of purines
Common sources of purines include whitebait, offal and beer.

2. Moderate alcohol intake
Excessive alcohol can aggravate gout. Always limit intake to 2 standard drinks per day, with several alcohol-free days per week.

3. Fluid
If you do not have a fluid restriction, a high fluid intake is recommended.

4. Weight control
If you are overweight, gradual weight loss of about ½ kg per week is recommended. Quick loss of weight will result in tissue breakdown and a rise in uric acid levels.

5. Sugar/Fat/Fibre
High blood fats (hypertriglyceridaemia) are associated with high levels of uric acid and gout. Avoiding saturated fats will often help.
Saturated fats are found in full fat dairy products, fatty meats and poultry, butter, lard and pastries and cakes made with these. Take away foods are often high in saturated fats and are best avoided.
You should also try to avoid foods high in sugar, and increase your intake of high fibre foods such as wholegrain breads, cereals, fruit and vegetables.

6. Eating Well
It is always important to ensure your diet is varied and contains food from all the food groups – dairy foods, fruit and vegetables, breads and cereals, meat, fish, poultry or legumes/lentils.