These 4 symptoms may signal you have gout

goutA gout attack can be sudden and painful, but many people may not be able to recognize it right away.

Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body, according to the American College of Rheumatology. This buildup forms needles of urate crystal deposits in the joints. Gout may occur as a result of increased uric acid production or when the kidneys are unable to efficiently remove uric acid from the body.

A lot of ailments have pain and discomfort as a symptom, but gout’s symptoms are distinguished by their intensity and their occurrence in the joints, especially the big toe.

Here are four symptoms of gout the Mayo Clinic says you should be aware of: 

  • Intense joint pain: Gout pain is usually most severe in the first 4-12 hours after it starts, and can occur in the big toe, feet, ankles, knees, hands and wrists.
  • Lingering discomfort: Joint discomfort can last long after the most severe pain subsides, says the Mayo Clinic. This discomfort can last anywhere from a day to weeks.
  • Inflammation and redness: Gout-affected joints may experience swelling, tenderness, warmth and redness.
  • Limited range of motion: Gout can limit joint mobility in affected areas.

Gout has been linked to obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes and is more common in men, and in women after menopause. Other risk factors include what you eat; steak, organ meats, seafood and drinks sweetened with fructose (fruit sugar) all are linked to gout.

The Mayo Clinic says sudden, intense pain in a joint is a sign you should call your doctor. Leaving gout untreated can cause it to worsen and cause damage to the affected joint.

Fortunately, gout can be treated and flareups controlled with changes in diet and with medication.