High levels of uric acid can cause gout, which is a form of arthritis. Gout in women is much less common than it is in men. Generally speaking, only one in ten patients with gout are female. This disease often affects males once they have reached the age of puberty. When women are afflicted, they do not normally notice symptoms until they have completed menopause.
Gout is a progressive disease that normally begins by attacking the toes. After this, a patient might notice pain in the ankles or knees. Gout in women typically progresses in the same way as it usually does in men.
Gout is normally caused by high levels of uric acid, which is a chemical produced naturally by the body. The excess uric acid causes deposits to form in the joints, thereby causing inflammation. This can eventually lead to joint destruction, and in more serious cases kidney stones or kidney failure.
As a rule, men have more uric acid in their bodies than women. Levels begin to increase when males reach puberty and continue until they are senior citizens. This is one of the reasons why gout in women is less frequent than it is in men.
Gout in women is somewhat more common after menopause. This is because uric acid levels increase after estrogen has stopped being produced. Some women may produce the same levels of uric acid that men in the same age group produce.
Hyperuricemia is the name for elevated uric acid levels in the body. It is estimated that around 10% of adult males have this condition. Not all of them will eventually develop gout, however. The number of adult women with hyperuricemia is not known.
Gout is normally diagnosed by taking x-rays of or drawing fluid from an inflamed joint. This is often done to rule out other disorders or infections of the joint that mimic gout. X-rays can also tell doctors if there has been any permanent damage done to the joints due to the progression of this disease.
Although gout in women is much less common than it is in men, females who show signs of this disorder should nonetheless consult a physician. This is especially true if they are post-menopausal. Diagnosing this disease early can often prevent permanent joint damage or kidney stones from happening. It might also slow the progression of gout so that women can lead a more active lifestyle later in life.