Gout affects more than one million Americans of all ages, but particularly men between 40 and 50 years old. Almost all people with gout have too much uric acid in their bodies, and the kidneys can't process this waste product fast enough. Gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain and tenderness, redness, warmth, and swelling in the joints. It generally affects one joint at a time, particularly the big toe joint, but it can also affect other joints. Gout generally occurs in three phases: first, a sudden attack of joint pain and swelling, followed by a period with no symptoms, and then pain and swelling that comes and goes. It affects everyone differently. Some people have only one attack, and others have several attacks with lasting joint pain and damage. There is no cure for gout, but it can be controlled. An attack of gout can be triggered by drinking alcohol, eating protein or sugar rich foods, a sudden, severe illness, crash diets, and sometimes injury to a joint. The pain and swelling in the joint are caused by uric crystals that collect in the joint. Treatment consists of taking medication and diet. Treatment goals are to relieve pain and to prevent future attacks and joint damage. For more information, contact a health care professional.