Uric Acid: Causes & Symptoms, Effects on Health and Treatment

What is Uric Acid:

Uric acid is a natural waste product found in the blood. It is produced when our body breaks down ‘purine’ chemical during the digestion process. Purine is a chemical that is found in certain foods. Normally, our body filters out uric acid through the kidneys with urine.

Causes of High Uric Acid Levels:

If our kidneys fail to efficiently eliminate uric acid from our body, then its level increases in the body. This slow-down in the disposal of uric acid from our bodies is caused by consuming purine-rich foods and drinks. These are:

  • Sea foods such as shrimps, salmon, sardines, and lobster
  • Red meat
  • Organ meats like liver
  • Peas, dried beans, and mushrooms
  • Food and drinks having high fructose corn syrup
  • Sugary foods and beverages
  • Alcohol, especially beer

Other Causes:

  • Overweight/obesity
  • Diabetes 
  • Intake of diuretics
  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Certain cancers and their chemotherapy

Health-Effects of High Uric Acid:

If uric acid level increases in the body, it may cause hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia refers to having too much uric acid in the blood.  It forms crystals of uric acid in the body. These crystals settle in our joints and cause Gout (arthritis), which is highly painful. 

The uric acid crystals may also form stones in the kidneys.

Hyperuricemia is continuously on the rise since the 1960s. According to a recent study, 43.3 million US population have this condition.

If proper treatment is not done, high uric acid may cause several diseases, such as:-

  • Chronic gout
  • Permanent damage to bones, joints, and tissues
  • Kidney disease 
  • Heart disease. 
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of High Uric Acid:

High uric acid levels may cause gout and the formation of kidney stones. 

Gout symptoms include:

  • Joint pain, soreness
  • Joint swelling
  • Skin turning red or purple 
  • Joints feel hot

Kidney stone symptoms include:

  • Acute pain in the lower back or genitals
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Blood in urine
  • Urgency to urinate

Treatment / Prevention of Uric Acid:

  • Medication as prescribed by a doctor
  • Drink fluids/water in good quantity (this enables kidneys to remove uric acid faster)
  • Avoid soft and alcoholic drinks
  • Add more fiber to your diet
  • Control your weight 
  • Balance your insulin level
  • Reduce consumption of purine-rich foods like red and organ meat, sea foods, and foods with high fructose corn syrup
  • Manage stress 

Final Thoughts:

High levels of uric acid in our bodies can expose us to serious health issues. However, we can avoid the harmful effects of high uric acid and related ailments, by changing our dietary habits, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and exercising regularly. Besides, we should also take proper medical treatment as prescribed by our physician to keep a check on the uric acid level in our body.

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