Gout is an excruciatingly painful inflammatory disease of the joints. It is caused by an increased blood level of uric acid , which, when crystallized, can produce inflammation in the joints and surrounding tissues. People with gout tend to have conditions or take medications that increase blood uric acid. For example, kidney disease and diuretic medications (“water pills”) may increase the risk of gout. Genetic factors and diet also play a role. Foods associated with an increased risk of gout include organ meats, red meat, fish, fructose (a common sweetener), and alcoholic beverages, especially beer. Gout is common among men who are at least 30 years old and women who are postmenopausal; incidence rises with advancing age. In the last several decades, the frequency of gout has almost doubled. The reasons include longer life span; dietary choices; and rising rates of chronic kidney disease, obesity, and use of certain medications. The November 28, 2012, issue of JAMA contains an article about diagnosing and treating gout. This Patient Page is based on one published in the November 24, 2010, issue of JAMA.