Gout is often viewed as a disease of the wealthy. Many assume that its primary cause is overindulgence in rich foods and wine. In fact, gout is a type of arthritic disease that affects a wide range of individuals. While lovers of meat and wine are more at risk than others, people with it in their family history, are overweight, and those on certain medications, also face higher risks than the general population. Statistics show that men in their 40s are more likely to develop it than other groups.
The appearance of uric acid crystals in joint fluid is a classic sign of gout that doctors expect to find. They normally extract some synovial fluid from the joint and examine it for the presence of these crystals. Although if the crystals are found this confirms the diagnosis, this is not to say that if they are absent, the patient is free of gout. The crystals might also be found in other areas, so the doctor needs to carry out additional tests. Since the symptoms are easily confused with those of other conditions it may take time to reach a definite diagnosis.
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