Gout is a common and painful form of inflammatory arthritis, caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in your joints. This causes inflammation, swelling and pain. It can also create other symptoms, including fever and chills.

When you have a flare-up, your joint can feel hot, swollen, and very painful. If gout isn’t treated, it can become chronic, meaning it recurs often.

Multiple flare-ups can also lead to tophi. These are large deposits of crystals beneath your skin that can cause joint damage and deformity. Gout usually affects one joint at a time — often the joint of the big toe — but it can affect multiple joints at once.

Certain people are more likely to experience gout, especially older men, postmenopausal women, and Black people. Research from 2016 has found that gout is more common in African Americans due to genetics, obstacles to quality healthcare, and a higher incidence of other conditions, including obesity and diabetes.

Several symptoms may be present before, during, and after a gout flare-up. Here are some to be aware of.

In a 2015 case study, gout caused fever and chills, although it was at first unclear that gout was the cause.

It’s important to see a doctor soon after developing a fever is you also have joint pain, so you can get the right diagnosis and begin managing gout before it gets worse. A fever might be one of the first signs that you have the condition.

When uric acid crystals build up enough, they trigger your immune cells to release cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that recruit other immune cells to protect your body. This leads to a self-perpetuating, inflammatory cycle in the joint, creating acute simultaneous pain and fever.

When you have a fever, chills often follow. This is because your body is trying to raise its temperature to help you fight off what it believes is an infection. You may involuntarily shake and shiver in order to generate additional heat.

Some research from 2017 indicates that the inflammation and fever response is more intense in people older than age 50, especially among those over age 65.

Gout can have:

  • no symptoms
  • occasional symptoms
  • constant symptoms

Indicators of gout include swelling at the joint, redness, and localized pain. One hallmark sign of the condition is intense pain, often in the big toe and often at night.

In fact, this symptom has been documented for centuries, according to a 2017 research review. Gout was once considered the disease of kings because a diet high in alcohol, red meat, organ foods, and seafood — what were previously considered luxury foods — can contribute to or worsen symptoms.

Other symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • malaise, or a general feeling of unwellness
  • joint stiffness
  • warmth
  • redness around joint
  • deformity in and around the joint

Some factors that contribute to gout are gender and age. Others are lifestyle based.

The prevalence of gout is 3% to 6% in men and 1% to 2% in women, according to 2017 research.

Up to 90% of people with the condition manage flare-ups poorly or not at all. That number may be higher in the Black community, where quality healthcare may be harder to access.

Some flare-up causes include:

  • older age
  • being male at birth
  • obesity
  • diet high in purines, which are broken down into uric acid in your body
  • alcohol use
  • sweetened beverages, sodas and high fructose corn syrup
  • medications including diuretics, low dose aspirin, some antibiotics prescribed for tuberculosis, and cyclosporine

Gout in the Black community

A 2016 review of studies found that gout was more common in the Black population, mainly due to the higher prevalence of other conditions, including diabetes, chronic kidney disease, obesity, and hypertension.

The same study indicated that many people with gout, especially Black people, were less likely to be treated by physicians in accordance with recognized standards.

The condition is painful and chronic, and it can damage your joints if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you have a flare-up.

Was this helpful?

The same treatment guidelines apply to everyone who suspects they may have gout.

It’s important to see a doctor as soon as you have a flare-up or suspect you have gout, in order to keep the disease from progressing, becoming more painful, and possibly damaging your joints.

The disease can be managed with the right medications and lifestyle changes, including diet changes.

Gout has been around for centuries. It is a painful condition in which uric acid levels in your body are high enough to create crystals in your joints.

The crystals trigger an immune reaction, which can lead to fever, chills, inflammation, and in advanced cases, damage to your joints. It can also be very painful.

It’s more prevalent in older men, postmenopausal women, and the Black community. It can be brought on or worsened by your diet, lifestyle, and other medical conditions you might have.

It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.