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Gout (also known as gouty arthritis) is a condition caused by a buildup of the salts of uric acid (a normal byproduct of the diet) in the joints. A single big toe joint is the most commonly affected area, possibly because it is subject to so much pressure in walking. Attacks of gouty arthritis are extremely painful. Men are more likely to be afflicted than women. Diets heavy in red meat, rich sauces, shellfish, and brandy have been linked to gout. However, other protein compounds in foods, such as lentils and beans, may play a role.
The main symptom of gout is waking up in the middle of the night with an acute throbbing pain in the big toe, which is swollen. The pain lasts for around three or four hours and then subsides. However, pain in the same toe usually returns within a few months.
Gout can be controlled by with prescription medications and diet. Note: Please consult with your physician before taking any medications. The application of ice or cooling lotions helps alleviate pain and swelling during an acute phase. In some cases, specially-made shoes are prescribed to relieve the pain associated with gout.