Uric acid is a naturally-occurring waste product in the body. Uric acid is caused by the breakdown of the chemical purine, which is always present in the body and in some foods. Normally, uric acid is carried by the blood and filtered by the kidneys, then becomes waste product that exits in your urine. However, uric acid levels can rise if the kidneys don't get rid of it naturally, or if the body produces too much of it. This is called hyperuricemia.
When you have excess uric acid in your body, you can experience some uncomfortable or unpleasant symptoms. There are many causes of uric acid buildup, and several ways to treat the problem.
Excess Uric Acid Causes
Your doctor might check for uric acid buildup if you start to exhibit symptoms. When you are tested for uric acid, these are the ranges you should expect to see. If you are within these ranges, then the problem is probably not uric acid:
Normal Uric Acid Range
If your uric acid measurements are high, there could be many reasons for that. Some of the most common factors include drinking too much alcohol, taking diuretic medications or immune-suppressing drugs, or an overload of niacin or vitamin B-3. If you are obese, suffer from an underactive thyroid or renal insufficiency or have psoriasis, you might also face problems with uric acid.
More serious causes can include a diet rich in purine, genetics, kidney problems or kidney failure, or tumor lysis syndrome (a blood disorder caused by certain cancers or cancer treatments).
Excess Uric Acid Symptoms
When you are dealing with uric acid symptoms, the discomfort can be significant. Here are the most common signs of a uric acid problem:
This is caused by uric acid accumulation in the blood, which can lead to the formation of small sharp crystals. These crystals can lead to pain in joints and surrounding tissues, including the feet, ankles, knees and hands. The pain can be sharp and intense.
There are many remedies for gout, and most of them are easy to incorporate into your daily life:
- Eat Fruits and Vegetables. Foods that are low in purines can help flush out the uric acid. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but avoid mushrooms, asparagus and cauliflower, as they have high levels of purine.
- Eat Cherries. Cherries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being an antioxidant. A cup at each meal has been shown to reduce gout.
- Take Alfalfa. The same is true of alfalfa, which can be taken as a supplement with meals to help reduce the pain of gout.
- Drink Lots of Water. The more water your drink, the more the uric acid is diluted. Experts recommend at least two liters a day.
2. Kidney Stones
High levels of uric acid can lead to small stone-like deposits in the kidneys. These are then passed down to the bladder, where they cause intense pain that comes and goes. This pain is not relieved until the kidney stones pass through the urethra.
The best remedies for kidney stones are preventative. These can include:
- Drink much more water, until your urine runs clear
- Eat foods low in salt and animal proteins
- Take care with taking calcium supplements, as these can make kidney stones worse. Your doctor might prescribe allopurinol, which is a medication that helps reduce uric acid levels in the blood.
3. Kidney Failure
Kidney failure is just what it sounds like: The kidneys no longer function as well when it comes time to eliminate wastes. The result can be several painful and annoying symptoms, including uric acid buildup in the blood.
Remedies for kidney failure focus greatly on what you choose to eat. Avoid foods with salt and high levels of protein, as these both make your kidneys work harder. You should also avoid foods that have high levels of potassium, such as bananas or potatoes. Instead, choose low-potassium foods.
4. Uric Acid Crystals
The symptoms of uric acid can be found throughout the body, depending upon where uric acid crystals lodge. Though this is often in the joints and especially in the feet, it can be almost anywhere, and that can lead to localized pain in that area. If you are dealing with significant pain in one area of your body, talk to your doctor about it. You might be diagnosed with high uric acid levels.
When to see a doctor
High levels of uric acid can be very frightening, especially when uric acid symptoms set in. If you have the following conditions, get to the emergency room immediately.
- If you are dealing with localized pain that is red and inflamed, especially if it is in a toe or finger, which might be a sign of uric acid buildup
- If you experience bleeding that doesn't stop after a few minutes
- Rapid heartbeat or new rashes on the skin, especially in conjunction with starting new medications.
- If you are feeling chest pain or chest discomfort, as well as shortness of breath
More Excess Uric Acid Remedies
When you are trying to rid your body of high uric acid, there are a few ways proven to work. It starts with what you put into your body.
- Avoid Foods High in Purine. Cutting out foods that contain high levels or purine can naturally lower your uric acid levels. According to the American Medical Association, foods such as anchovies, sardines in oil, fish roes, herring, yeast, organ meant such as liver or kidneys, and meat extracts such as consommés and gravies, should all be avoided. Also stay clear of legumes, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower and alcoholic beverages, especially beer.
- Things You Should Do. Talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking, any symptoms that are troubling and your health history, including things like diabetes or high blood pressure. If uric acid symptoms are present, follow your doctor's instructions for care and take medications exactly as directed.
- Medical Treatments. In most cases, over the counter drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help deaden the pain of uric acid symptoms. If those don't work, your doctor might prescribe allopurinol, a drug that reduces uric acid. You might also take uricosuric drugs that prevent the crystals from lodging, and xanthine oxidase inhibitors, which help relieve the pain of gout.