Gout is a general term for a variety of conditions caused by a buildup of uric acid. This buildup usually affects your feet. If you have gout, you'll probably feel swelling and pain in the joints of your foot, particularly your big toe. An attack of gout can occur suddenly, often waking you up in the middle of the night with the sensation that your big toe is on fire. The affected joint is hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of the sheet on it may seem intolerable. Gout symptoms may come and go, but there are ways to manage symptoms and prevent flares.