About Uric Acid
Uric acid is a chemical compound in the human body produced after the breakdown of purines, which are substances found in most cells in the body, and are acquired after eating high protein foods like liver and kidneys. This type of acid is excreted in the urine. One of the most common condition that result from uric acid accumulation is gout, a type of arthritis which is also a precursor to the formation of uric kidney stones. Uric acid level and gout are closely related so it is recommended that the uric acid level of susceptible individuals be monitored on a regular basis to prevent gout.
Individuals with increased risks for uric acid include those who have family history of gout, those who are taking certain medication like hypertensive drugs, those who have diabetes and atherosclerosis, and those who excessively drink alcohol. Men are also more prone to develop gout than women.
Relationship Between Uric Acid and Gout
When uric acid accumulates in joints or capillaries, they usually turn into needle-like crystals and cause a lot of pain, redness, swelling, inflammation and discomfort in the said area. The joint in the big toe is the one commonly affected by gout, although other joints of the ankles, hands, knees and wrist are also not spared. If it is not treated accordingly, uric acid may get stronger and become harder to eliminate from the joints and the capillaries, therefore causing more intense pain that lasts longer.
Testing Uric Acid Levels
Physicians usually get patients history and do physical examination, and they may request for certain laboratory tests to help in the diagnosis. A blood test for the measurement of uric acid level is often ordered to determine if uric acid is accumulating inside the body. Other reasons for having this test done is to monitor the uric acid levels in patients undergoing radiation treatments or chemotherapy. Renal failure is also another reason why this test is ordered.
Results from the uric acid test frequently help doctors evaluate if patients’ body is breaking down purines as it should. If it is not, it indicates that the body is producing way too much uric acid or the body is not capable of getting rid of uric acid in an efficient way. The expected result for gout is an increased level of uric acid in the blood.
Reducing Uric Acid Levels
The most effective ways of reducing uric acid is by losing some weight, limiting or stopping alcohol consumption, increasing fluid intake, and changing diet. Consumption of less salty foods, and eating more fruits and vegetables may also help in preventing uric acid increase. There are also medications designed specifically to reduce uric acid levels, and these are usually prescribed depending on the patients’ manifestations of gout.
There is generally a close relationship between a significant increase in uric acid level and gout. It is thus recommended that those with increased risks for gout should avoid eating foods that can trigger uric acid increase, they should drink plenty of liquid, and they should be monitored for their blood uric acid regularly in order to prevent gout occurrence and its complications.
MedicineNet.com: Gout and Hyperuricemia
Lab Tests Online: Uric Acid