An increase in uric acid in the body can become a serious problem. It can often snow ball into diseases like gout, kidney stones, bladder stone among others.
The right action at the right time can save us from these serious issues, and it all begins with being informed.
FIT speaks to experts about uric acid, and what leads to high levels of it in the body. Also, what should you, and shouldn't you, do when uric acid levels in your body go up?
How Uric Acid Is Made in the Body
"Uric acid is a type of chemical, which is formed in the body by the breakdown of an element called purine. Most of the uric acid is filtered by the kidneys and passes out of the body through the urinary tract. But when the level of uric acid in the body increases," says Dr Ajay Kumar, Director, Urology, Nephrology and Transplantation, Paras HMRI Hospital, Patna.
"Kidneys are also not able to filter it, due to which it breaks down in the form of crystals and starts collecting between the bones. High uric acid in medical term is called hyperuricemia."Dr Ajay Kumar, Director, Urology, Nephrology and Transplantation, Paras HMRI Hospital, Patna
What Should Be the Normal Amount of Uric Acid in the Body ?
Hyperuricemia is the scientific name for an increased level of uric acid.
To detect uric acid in the body, a specialist may ask the patient for a blood test that helps determin the level of uric acid in the patient's blood.
The normal range of uric acid is different in women and in men.
For women, this is more than 6 mg/dL.
For men, this is greater than 6.5 mg/dL.
If the patient's uric acid level is above these standards, then definitely consult a specialist for that.
Please note that there can be slight variations in the standard of labs that test the level of uric acid.
What Happens When You Have High Uric Acid?
Having high uric acid can manifest into a number of other issues. These include,
If the level of uric acid in the blood of the patient is found to be more than the above mentioned standards, crystals can form in the in the joints of the body like hands and feet.
This can lead to 'gout', a disease that occurs in the joints of the bones of the body, which causes swelling in the joints, severe pain, and the inability to move.
Having high uric acid can also lead to kidney stones.
Often these stones are small, which pass out of the body through urine, but when it becomes large, it can cause blockage in parts of the urinary system.
Urinary tract or bladded stones is a condition that occurs when solid minerals accumulate in your bladder. This problem has the potential to completely damage the bladder.
Causes of High Uric Acid
"The level of uric acid increases when the body makes more purine, or more purine is taken through food. Apart from this, uric acid level also increases due to reduced kidney function," says, Dr Rajiva Gupta, Vice Chairman, Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Medanta Hospital, Gurugram.
Some other factors that lead to a spike in uric acid levels in the body are,
Eating foods high in purines
Excessive alcohol consumption
Decreased kidney function
Diseases like cancer that lead to higher levels of uric acid
"Sometimes the reason for high uric acid is also genetic". In such a situation, it is important to take care and contact the doctor as soon as the symptoms are realized."Dr Rajiva Gupta, Vice Chairman, Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Medanta Hospital, Gurugram
Treatment of High Uric Acid
The treatment of the patient depends on the cause and symptoms of his disease.
For conditions like gout, and kidney stones, doctors recommend medication, surgery or lifestyle changes depending on its severity. Therefore, if you experience the above-mentioned symptoms, contact your doctor at the earliest.
"High uric acid can be brought under control by lifestyle changes. Avoid obesity and take care of diet, then it is possible."Dr Ajay Kumar, Director, Urology, Nephrology and Transplantation, Paras HMRI Hospital, Patna
Foods to Avoid
"Elevated uric acid can be controlled with certain dietary restrictions or advice. If a patient has gout along with hyperuricemia, diet can prevent or reduce the damage caused by gout," says Dr Ajay Kumar.
In illness, it is important that the patient follow the diet prescribed by the doctor.
One should typically avoid the following foods if you have high levels of uric acid or renal issues.
Foods containing high fructose corn syrup such as cold drinks, canned fruit, ice cream
Spinach, Peas, Beans and Mushrooms
Beer and alcoholic beverages
Food to Say Yes To
Dr Ajay Kumar advices filling your plate with these foods to control high uric acid.