Your body is in constant motion, 24-7. Even as you sleep, your blood flows, your brain fires away, and your gut digests that late-night snack. Whenever you eat something, your body pulls out the good stuff, such as proteins and vitamins, and sends away the waste.
Typically, one of those waste products is uric acid. It’s formed when your body breaks down purines, which are found in some foods. Most of the uric acid leaves your body when you pee, and some when you poop.
High levels of uric acid can lead to serious conditions like gout, kidney stones or even kidney failure. Luckily, a simple blood test can determine if your blood uric acid levels are within a normal range. WebMD says you might undergo a uric acid blood test to determine:
– If you have gout
– If your kidney stones are caused by high uric acid levels
– How much uric acid is in your blood, if you are a cancer patient undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, which can cause increased uric acid levels
Causes of High Uric Acid Levels
According to Mayo Clinic, high uric acid levels usually happen when your kidneys aren’t working properly to eliminate uric acid efficiently. But there are factors that can cause your kidneys to be overworked:
– Diuretic medications, like water pills
– High alcohol consumption
– Drugs that suppress the immune system
– Niacin, or vitamin B-3
– Purine-rich diet, including liver, game meat, anchovies, sardines, gravy, dried beans and peas and mushrooms
– Renal insufficiency: kidneys can’t filter waste
– Tumor lysis syndrome: a rapid release of cells into the blood caused by some c-a-n-c-e-r-s or by chemotherapy for those c-a-n-c-e-r-s
– Chemotherapy or radiation
A high uric acid level is not a disease, and for some people it’s a condition that doesn’t need to be treated at all. Sometimes there are no symptoms, but if you have a flare of gout or a certain type of kidney stone, consult your doctor about doing a uric acid test.
Some medications can also increase uric acid levels, so ask your doctor to perform a uric acid test if you’re concerned your medications may be affecting your levels. By no means should you stop taking your medication. If you think it could be increasing your uric acid levels, always consult your doctor before stopping medications.
Diagnosing High Uric Acid
A simple blood test can determine whether your blood has an increased uric acid level. If so, WebMD says your doctor will then weigh the results of the test against some of the above causes and your overall health. But according to WebMD, it’s also important to note:
– High uric acid levels and/or joint pain doesn’t automatically mean you have gout.
– Uric acid can also be measured in urine.
– If your blood results are high, your doctor may also perform a urine test to double-check the results.
– Uric acid levels increase during pregnancy.
Some people with high levels of uric acid might need limited treatment. Others, though, such as someone who is suffering from gout, might be prescribed a diet change, according to WebMD. Or as Health Talk explains, there are certain long-term medications for those with frequent flares of gout.
Your doctor will determine whether medication, diet or lifestyle changes are needed to keep your uric acid levels in a healthy range for your body.