Gout is a type of acute arthritis caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. Your body creates uric acid when it metabolizes protein. If too much uric acid is produced, or your kidneys can’t properly dispose of it, deposits may build up around a joint. The big toe is a commonly affected site. Over time, the acid may crystallize, leading to joint pain, inflammation, and lack of joint mobility. If left untreated, gout can spread to multiple joints. The majority of sufferers are men over age 40. Risk factors include obesity, kidney problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, heavy drinking, and a diet high in purines, which are found in certain meats, beans, and seafood. Infection, recent injuries, or surgery, and some illnesses may also elevate uric acid levels. To diagnose gout, a doctor will typically measure the level of uric acid, and examine joint fluid samples for the presence of crystals. Treatment may begin with lifestyle changes, like losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and following a special diet. To ease pain during attacks, medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are often prescribed. Other drugs may be used to aid in the elimination of uric acid, or reduce its production. For more information on gout, consult a health care professional.