Gary Ho is nearing 50, but his first experience with gout was when he was just 24.
"When that started happening, I didn't think much of it, but by that evening it was swollen it was red,” Ho describes. “It was probably the most intense pain I have felt in a long time."
Gout is more common in older people, but Ho got it in college when he was healthy and active.
"Gout is a type of arthritis problem that likes to start in the lower extremities, like the toe, the foot, the ankle, somewhere down low," says Dr. Christopher Parker, chief rheumatology at Austin Diagnostic Clinic.
Dr. Parker says intense joint pain and inflammation can occur suddenly, like in Ho’s case.
"This disorder where a normal waste product in your body called uric acid can build up in some people and deposit in joints and soft tissues," Dr. Parker explains.
Recent articles have claimed fad diets are causing gout, but Dr. Parker says unhealthy eating is the bigger problem.
"Obesity, diabetes, and as I already mentioned, kidney problems and adrenal problems definitely increase risk factors," Dr. Parker says.
If you are worried you have gout, you'll want to check your uric acid level. It’s pretty inexpensive to do the test.
Dr. Parker says with no insurance a simple lab test will cost $20.
"If your uric acid levels are still high, work with your doctor not just on diet, but other medicines to get this under control," he suggests.
Both Dr. Parker and Ho say if you're experiencing arthritis-like symptoms, see a doctor.
Gout is a chronic disease and can be managed with anti-inflammatory medication, There are also support groups on Facebook like Gout Support Group of America.
"There's life without pain,” Ho says. “You can have quality of life with gout. I have it."