Risk Factors & Triggers
There are a number of risk factors for gout. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the risk for developing gout.
- Hyperuricemia – High levels of uric acid, above 6.8 mg/dL, can lead to gout attacks. The best range for uric acid is below 6.0 mg/dL regardless of age or gender.
- Family History – One in four people with gout has a family history of the disease.
- Age – Gout can occur in anyone at any age, but it typically develops in people age 45 and older.
- Gender – Gout affects men more than women, although once women are post-menopausal, their rates of gout increase almost (but not quite) to the same level as men.
- Ethnicity – The incidence of gout varies by ethnicity. Some ethnic groups suffer more gout than others. This is genetic. For example, Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to suffer from obesity.
- Obesity – Someone with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher is considered obese.
- Other Health Issues – Gout is associated with other health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. It is important to receive a prompt diagnosis and ongoing treatment to manage these conditions.
- Joint Injury – People with previously damaged joints are more likely to get gout.
- A High-Fructose Diet – High-fructose corn syrup is added to many foods and drinks. It causes uric acid to go up. Sweetened soft drinks and juices; certain cereals and pastries; ice cream and candy; and processed foods at fast food restaurants often contain high-fructose corn syrup.
- Use of Certain Medications – This especially includes diuretics or water pills and certain anti-rejection medications used in transplant patients.
Gout triggers can differ from one person to another. Once a person identifies his or her specific triggers, gout can be easier to manage. Common triggers include:
- Alcohol – This includes excessive intake of alcohol, especially beer, or binge drinking.
- Purine-Rich Foods – Eating large amounts of foods high in purines, including red meat, organ meat and shellfish, can trigger attacks.
- Crash Diets – This especially includes high-protein fad diets.
- Starting Uric-Acid Lowering Medicines – Although treating gout with uric acid-lowering medications is important for many gout sufferers – and is often the best long-term solution for controlling gout – starting a new medication can actually trigger attacks. If gout symptoms seem to be developing after starting medication, call the medical professional who prescribed the medication before stopping or dismissing treatment.
- Surgery or Sudden Illness – Those who are in bed or stationary for a long period of time are at higher risk.
- Radiation Therapy