What Causes Uric Acid?

Uric acid is produced when our bodies break down chemicals known as purines, which is then excreted through urine. At normal levels it passes out harmlessly without adverse side effects; however, high concentrations can lead to gout or kidney stones in high amounts and high uric acid levels could also indicate diabetes or cancer treatments such as chemotherapy treatment.

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Causes

Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down purines, nitrogen-containing compounds found both inside cells and external sources such as organ meats and herring (known as exogenous sources) or found within damaged or dying cells (endogenous sources). Uric acid is produced when breakdown products of compounds, including adenine and guanine, are broken down within cells. When present at high levels in bloodstream it’s known as hyperuricemia – high concentrations can cause crystals to form in joints leading to painful form of arthritis known as Gout. Uric acid can also accumulate in kidneys forming kidney stones; high levels may be indicative of Fanconi syndrome or kidney disease as well.

If your uric acid levels are elevated, it’s essential that you consult with a healthcare provider immediately in order to identify its cause. While higher uric acid levels usually don’t cause any symptoms themselves, keeping an eye on them just in case they rise and cause issues down the road could be beneficial.

Normaly, your body sheds excess uric acid through urine. But if your kidneys cannot get rid of it fast enough, excess uric acid can build up and form crystals in joints causing pain and swelling. In such instances, your doctor might suggest a diet with lower purines as well as medications like allopurinol or febuxostat to avoid future flare ups.

Uric acid has long been identified as an alarm signal, similar to ATP and HMGB1, that triggers inflammasome activation, initiating type 2 immune responses involving epithelial cells, innate lymphoid cells, macrophages and mast cells [15]. Recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy of uric acid as an adjuvant for allergic sensitization by inducing bronchial eosinophilia following house dust mite allergen inhalation; additionally it triggers type 2 immunity via the spleen tyrosine kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase pathways [17]. Finally uric acid can even accelerate progression of osteoarthritis through inflammasome activation and synovial expression of IL-1b and IL-18 [18].

Symptoms

Uric acid is produced when our bodies break down compounds called purines, and usually eliminated through urine by our kidneys. But when too much is produced or kidneys don’t process it quickly enough, excessive levels of uric acid build up in our systems – known as hyperuricemia. If too much uric acid builds up over time or its removal slows, this condition leads to hyperuricemia with crystal formation forming within joints and other tissues leading to arthritis called Gout, with sudden attacks of severe joint pain, swelling and redness usually occurring within hours or minutes – more likely in those with high uric acid levels than those with normal levels.

Most people with elevated uric acid don’t notice any immediate symptoms; however, over time the levels may become high enough to lead to diseases like gout or kidney stones.

Gout is the most frequent side effect of hyperuricemia and occurs when excess uric acid accumulates in joints as urate crystals. Gout attacks are painful and may last for weeks or more; typically affecting large toe joints but sometimes other joints like ankles, knees and elbows as well. Other symptoms of gout may include fever, chills and nausea.

Your doctor may prescribe medications like allopurinol (Zyloprim) and niacin to help decrease your uric acid levels, but dietary changes will play the most important role. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated; and limit alcohol consumption which increases uric acid production.

People with high uric acid levels may also be at increased risk for kidney stones, which are notoriously difficult to treat. Your doctor may advise taking medication such as niacin, thiazide diuretics, potassium or oxalate to help prevent their formation; or cutting back on foods high in uric acid such as meats, seafood and dairy products in your diet plan.

Diagnosis

Uric acid is produced when our bodies break down substances known as purines found in foods like liver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas as well as beer. Uric acid travels through our bloodstream before being excreted through urine from the kidneys. However, if your body produces too much uric acid or fails to eliminate enough of it from the bloodstream, a condition known as hyperuricemia could develop. This causes an excess amount of uric acid to build up in your system and eventually form within it. Gout is the most prevalent form of this condition, causing pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling in one or more joints – most typically the big toe – over a short period. Uric acid can form crystals in your kidneys that lead to kidney stones which in turn can lead to painful urinary tract infections as well as signal potential health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Your doctor will use either a blood test or 24-hour urine collection to measure your uric acid levels. They may ask about your medical history and symptoms to assist them in making a diagnosis, as well as any restrictions to eating or drinking for at least 4 hours prior to testing (water is fine!). Your blood sample will then be extracted via venipuncture from an arm vein in your arm; this process is known as venipuncture.

Your doctor will conduct tests to measure your uric acid levels prior to treating gout or any related conditions, which will enable him or her to decide the most appropriate course of treatment for you. The results of such examinations will help them make their recommendation.

If you experience only occasional attacks of gout, your doctor might not recommend treatment, even if your blood uric acid levels are elevated. But if there are more frequent flare-ups or signs of joint inflammation on X-rays, medications to lower uric acid levels and prevent future attacks may be prescribed by your physician, while also helping lower risks for kidney stones or tophi development and suggesting diet modifications as possible solutions.

If you have kidney stones, your doctor may suggest an imaging test such as ultrasound or computed tomography (CT scan). These noninvasive scans use soundwaves to create images of organ structures – kidneys being one example.

Treatment

Uric acid should normally be excreted through urine, but people with elevated levels may have kidney issues that prevent this process or allow additional amounts to enter their bodies. This condition known as hyperuricemia may lead to joint crystal formation that causes pain and swelling; while, in extreme cases, large deposits called tophi form on skin surface.

Gout is a type of arthritis in which too much uric acid accumulates in the bloodstream, leading to solid urate crystals being formed within joints. While most forms of arthritis develop slowly over time, gout attacks often happen very suddenly – often within hours! Most often affected is the big toe; however, other joints could also be affected such as feet ankles knees elbows and fingers.

Foods containing purines such as red meat, organ meats, some fish species, beer/alcohol and vegetables may cause increased uric acid levels to rise. Furthermore, kidney disease or damage may increase their levels.

Long-term treatments to maintain normal uric acid levels include avoiding foods rich in purines, drinking plenty of water and taking medication to lower uric acid levels. Over-the-counter options such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) may help; prescription options include allopurinol (Aloprim, Zyloprim) to decrease production; colchicine (Colcrys, Gloperba Mitigare), while diuretics help rid our bodies of excess uric acid through urine excretion.

As well as medications, other effective remedies for gout include weight loss, exercise and eating a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. X-rays and blood tests may be used to track progress of treatment as well as determine its success; when treating an attack of gout it’s crucial that treatment begins within 24 hours of its onset for best results.