Gout is a highly treatable form of arthritis characterized by inflamed, painful joints and is caused by the formation of crystal deposits at the joints. Gout has been referred to as "the disease of kings and the king of diseases" because it disproportionately affected individuals who enjoyed a rich diet. It affects more men than women and is often associated with obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (high levels of lipids in the blood), and diabetes. The condition is caused by monosodium urate crystal deposits in the joints, which are the result of an abnormal excess of uric acid in the body. The excess uric acid may be caused by an increase in production by the body, poor elimination of the uric acid by the kidneys, or increased intake of certain foods that metabolize into uric acid in the body. Foods that are high in purines (the component of the food that metabolizes into uric acid) include certain meats, seafood, dried beans, and dried peas. Alcoholic beverages may also increase levels of uric acid in the body. Gout attacks may be triggered by consumption of large quantities of alcohol, consumption of large quantities of protein-rich foods, fatigue, emotional stress, minor surgery, or illness. This type of arthritis can make your joints very painful and swollen. It usually strikes the big toe. But it can affect other joints as well, such as your ankle or knee. Gout is characterized by sudden, recurrent attacks that often occur without warning. Severe, chronic gout may lead to deformity. The symptoms of gout may resemble other medical conditions or problems, so it's important to get an accurate diagnosis quickly. In addition to a complete medical history and a physical examination, a diagnosis of gout may be confirmed with the examination of a fluid sample for the presence of urate crystals. Effective medical therapies are available for gout and gouty arthritis. Limiting alcohol intake and drinking plenty of water can reduce the risk for a gout attack. Avoiding foods high in purine also helps. These foods include liver, anchovies, red meat, shellfish, and gravy.