The sudden onset of pain in the big toe. It's red, it's hot, it's swollen.
This is the typical presentation for gout. However, gout can affect any joint similarly. Gout is caused by the immune system's reaction to uric acid deposition in the joints. While it affects only 1% of the population, this number is higher in males and increases with age. A number of medical conditions and medications can also predispose you to gout. If left untreated, gout flares can become more frequent, severe, affect more joints, or begin to affect other organs.
Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available to treat gout flares, including colchicine, anti-inflammatories, and cortisone injections. For those with more frequent flares, there are preventative medications such as allopurinol available too.