Gout is caused by having higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in your body. This may occur if:
- Your body makes too much uric acid
- Your body has a hard time getting rid of uric acid
If too much uric acid builds up in the fluid around the joints (synovial fluid), uric acid crystals form. These crystals cause the joint to swell and become inflamed.
The exact cause is unknown. Gout may run in families. The problem is more common in men, in women after menopause, and people who drink alcohol.
The condition may also develop in people with:
- Kidney disease
- Sickle cell anemia and other anemias
- Leukemia and other blood cancers
Gout may occur after taking medicines that interfere with the removal of uric acid from the body. People who take certain medicines, such as hydrochlorothiazide and other water pills, may have higher levels of uric acid in the blood.