Published Date April 08, 2022
Last update date: September 29, 2022
Uric acid is a waste product created when the body breaks down chemicals called purines (the end product of purine nucleotide degradation). Occasionally, uric acid builds up in joints and tissues, causing a range of health issues. One such issue is gout, a form of arthritis.
To have some uric acid in the blood is normal but, when its level increases or decreases above or below a healthy range, this can result in health problems. Excessive uric acid can lead to gout. Low uric acid levels are rare, but it is possible if a person excretes too much uric acid as waste. In males, the normal level of uric acid is 2.5–7.0 mg/dl whereas in females the normal level of uric acid is 1.5–6.0 mg/dl. Too much uric acid in the blood can lead to crystals forming in the joints and tissues, which may cause inflammation and gout symptoms.
If too much uric acid accumulates in the body, it causes hyperuricemia. This condition can cause crystals of uric acid (or urate) to form. These crystals can settle in the joints and cause gout, a form of arthritis that can be very painful. They can also settle in the kidneys forming kidney stones.
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 or a burning sensation. The affected joint can become hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of the bedsheet on it may seem intolerable. Gout symptoms may come and go, but there are ways to manage symptoms and prevent flares. This occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack.
To determine the level of uric acid, a blood sample is taken and tested. Finding an elevated blood uric acid level is NOT the same as diagnosing gouty arthritis and to diagnose definite gout, the uric acid crystals must be seen in the fluid taken from a swollen joint or seen by special imaging of the bones and joints (Ultrasound, X-ray or CAT scan). The joint fluid method involves drawing fluid from the affected joint using a needle. If the fluid is examined under a microscope, urate crystals may be visible.
There are two types of medication for gout. The first type helps reduce the inflammation and pain associated with gout attacks. The second type prevents gout complications by lowering the amount of uric acid in your blood. The doctor may prescribe medicines either to reduce or prevent complications, depending on the frequency of the inflammation or the conditions.
The better way is to choose healthier beverages and limit alcoholic beverages and drinks sweetened with fructose. Avoid the intake of foods that are high in purines such as red meat and organ meats, such as liver, which are especially high in purines. Purine-rich seafood includes anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout and tuna. Some low-fat dairy products may be a better choice of protein for people prone to gout. Gout can be prevented by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight. Walking, bicycling and swimming are low-impact exercises that are also easy on your joints.
A long-term disease management program can control and stop flare-ups of joint pain and high uric acid levels. Medications can be prescribed by your doctor to dissolve the deposits of uric acid crystals. Also having some good lifestyle modifications can improve the condition.
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