It results from an excess of uric acid in the blood and tissues of the body, which if present for long enough, can form into needle-like crystals which can inflame your joints and cause severe pain and swelling.
Most people with gout have high levels of uric acid in their body because it hasn’t been efficiently removed by the kidneys and washed out in the urine.
Gout now affects one in forty people in the UK.
However, experts are warning there is not enough awareness of the condition and warned some people are not receiving the right medication.
The UK Gout Society is joining forces with MPs, doctors and other charities to help raise awareness of gout.
“People with gout have been caricatured and laughed at throughout the centuries – but for people living with the condition it is anything but funny,” said Jim Shannon, MP for Strangford and DUP spokesperson for Health.
Gout is a painful condition, which left untreated may lead to joint and kidney damage, permanent disability and an increased risk of death.
It is caused by crystals of uric acid being deposited in the tissues when there is too much uric acid in the bloodstream, which cannot be effectively removed from the kidneys.
Gout is often associated with many other serious health conditions including obesity, kidney disease, diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
Between 1997 and 2012 the prevalence of gout in the UK rose by 64 per cent.
Gout can occur any time after puberty in men but rarely before the menopause in women.
“Sometimes there is a family history of the disorder,” says George Nuki, Emeritus Professor of Rheumatology, University of Edinburgh, and trustee of the UK Gout Society.
“While modifying diet and lifestyle may help, gout can only be effectively treated and prevented by long-term treatment with prescription medications that lower the level of uric acid in the blood.
“Unfortunately, we know that prescription, monitoring and adherence to these ‘potentially curative’ medications continues to remain a significant problem,” he added.
According to recent research, less than one in five people with gout are prescribed uric acid lowering therapy within six months of diagnosis – and only a quarter are still receiving treatment a year after being diagnosed.
“It is vital that we all work together to raise awareness of gout – together with other musculoskeletal conditions – because they are seriously undertreated and greatly misunderstood,” said Jim Shannon MP.
Established in 2002, the UK Gout Society is the only charity in the UK solely dedicated to raising awareness of gout and providing basic support and information.
The charity also plans to undertake educational work among health professionals and health commissioners later in 2017.
Too much uric acid can also be caused by a diet rich in purines – a constituent of meat, shellfish and many foods – alcohol, crash dieting, stress, prolonged illness, injury, or by certain medicines.
The campaign is using the hashtag #shoutaboutgout to dispel some of the myths surrounding the disorder.