Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when there are high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down purines, chemical compound found in the body and in food and drinks. When the breakdown process occurs properly, uric acid dissolves in the blood, passing through the kidneys and into urine. Gout occurs when the body produces too much of this acid or the kidneys do not excrete enough of it. The acid can manifest into needle-like crystals around the joints, causing an inflammatory reaction. The onset of gout is sometimes sudden and severe, resulting in pain, tenderness and sometimes swelling.