The connection between gout and uric acid lies in the fact that gout is a health disorder that directly results from the deposit of urate crystals in the joints. These deposits can occur when uric acid levels in the blood are abnormally high, a condition known as hyperuricemia, which can develop when the kidneys do not eliminate enough of the acid from the blood. Uric acid is a byproduct of the body's natural ability to break down cells. This is one of the reasons why it is in the blood. It therefore might be more accurate to explain the connection between gout and uric acid as one that is established by abnormally high levels of the acid being in the blood, which almost always leads to gout.
After gout has developed, attacks or flareups referred to as gouty arthritis can occur. These attacks are characterized by joint inflammation, swelling, tight skin, discoloration and pain that can become severe in the joints affected during the attack. Joints of the feet are most often affected, especially the joint at the base of the big toe. Other joints, however, also can be affected, such as the ankle, knee, wrist and elbow. Women who have gone through menopause and middle-aged men suffer from gout much more often than younger people.
Although gouty arthritis is not a life-threatening condition, damage to the tissues of the joints and joint deformity can occur if the attacks continue. Certain people are considered to run a greater risk of developing gout. They are cancer patients, people who have blood disorders, those who are obese, and patients who have undergone radiation treatment. Kidney failure and starvation also elevate one's risk of suffering because of the connection between gout and uric acid. Failed kidneys would not adequately eliminate this acid from the blood, which could easily lead to deposits of urate crystals in the joints.
Dietary habits greatly affect the natural connection between gout and uric acid, because some foods contain substances known as purines. The body transforms purines into uric acid, and the higher the blood levels of this acid, the greater the risk of urate crystals being deposited into the joints. Purine-rich foods should be avoided by people who suffer from gout and those who want to weaken the connection between gout and uric acid as much as possible. Foods that are high in purines include asparagus, anchovies, mussels, organ meats and sweet breads. Alcohol consumption also should be avoided because not only do alcoholic beverages increase the production of uric acid, they also interfere with the ability of the kidneys to eliminate it from the blood.