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Kidney functionUric Acid

Uric Acid

Uric Acid

June 25, 2020

Kidney function

What is Uric Acid?

Uric acid is produced by our body from the degradation of purines. Purines are nitrogen-containing chemical compounds found in food and drinks, especially meat, seafood and beer. Excess uric acid is removed from the body by the kidneys via urine.

Uric acid levels can be measured in blood or urine.

Why is this analysis important?

Uric acid levels in the blood can be determined as a part of a general health check to assess the risk of developing gout. Gout is a common form of arthritis that is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling and redness of the joints, most often the base joint of the big toe. Chronically elevated levels of uric acid in the blood can result in the formation of needle-like crystals in the joints, which causes gout attacks. When left untreated, these crystals can also deposit in soft tissues or produce kidney stones.

In short, it is useful to analyse uric acid levels in the blood to:

  • Detect gout

  • Assess the risk of developing gout

Results

The reference range for uric levels in the blood can be different depending on the laboratory and technique used. Sex and age can also affect the reference range. Doctors usually also take into account a number of factors when evaluating uric acid values.

High uric acid levels in the blood may be associated with:

  • High purine diet, such as liver, anchovies, mackerel, legumes and alcohol (beer)

  • Loss of kidney function

  • Use of certain medications, such as diuretics and asprin

  • Intake of high doses of niacin (vitamin B3) supplements

  • Obesity

  • Liver conditions, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

  • Psoriasis

  • Lead exposureInherited tendencies (genetics)

Low uric acid levels in the blood may be associated with:

  • Low purine diet, such as a vegetarian diet

  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

  • Certain liver conditions, such as Wilson’s diseaseInherited tendencies (genetics)

Other Considerations

To confirm hyperuricemia (abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood), the analysis should be repeated 3 weeks after the initial test.

Uric acid is a highly nonspecific marker.It can be used to monitor the evolution of known diseases such as gout, but it does not say anything about the reason why uric acid is elevated.

Although uric acid levels in the blood are usually high in people with gout, normal levels of uric acid in the blood cannot completely rule out gout.

References

Urate balance. Michael A Becker, MD. UpToDate Sep 19, 2017.