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What Happens With Too Much Uric Acid in Your Body?

by
author image Nadia Haris
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.
What Happens With Too Much Uric Acid in Your Body?
A reason to avoid eating liver: It contains high amounts of purines, leading to high blood uric acid. Photo Credit Tatiana Volgutova/iStock/Getty Images

As its name suggests, uric acid is an acidic waste product that your body passes through urine. It is a normal byproduct of the breakdown of foods that contain purines. Normally, the kidneys filter out uric acid from your blood; if too much builds up, it can lower the pH of your blood and urine and lead to a painful joint condition called gout and other complications.

High Blood Uric Acid

If you have high levels of uric acid in your blood because you have excess production of uric acid or your kidneys cannot excrete it efficiently, you may develop a condition called hyperuricemia. This condition makes your blood more acidic. Hyperuricemia may occur in people who eat lots of high-purine foods, such as liver, gravies and dried beans and peas. The National Institutes of Health clarifies that hyperuricemia is not a disease and does not cause symptoms on its own. However, it can increase your risk of other harmful conditions.

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Uric Acid Crystals and Disease

High blood levels of uric acid -- chronic hyperuricemia -- can cause uric acid salt crystals to form in your joints, leading to a condition called gout. According to the Cleveland Clinic, gout results from abnormal deposits of urate crystals around the cartilage of the joints. These spiky salts find their way into the joint fluid, causing inflammation, stiffness, swelling and pain. This most commonly happens in the big toe but can occur in any joint. Urate crystals can also clump together in the kidney, causing kidney stones.

Nutrition to Reduce Uric Acid

Gout used to be referred to as a disease of the rich because it was thought to caused by excess intake of rich foods and alcohol. While nutrition is important, your overall health, medications and kidney function can all raise your uric acid levels. If you have high uric acid levels, the National Institutes of Health advises avoiding alcohol and drinking plenty of water and other fluids to help the kidneys flush this compound. Avoid high-purine foods such as anchovies, herring, asparagus, dried beans and peas, sardines, scallops, mushrooms and mackerel.

Measuring Blood Uric Acid

Your doctor will use a serum uric acid test to check your blood levels. The University of Rochester advises that blood test results greater than 6 to 7 milligrams per deciliter may point to hyperuricemia. However, gout cannot be diagnosed by a blood sample; elevated blood uric acid levels does not mean you have this condition. Instead, your doctor will take fluid from an inflamed joint and check it for urate salt crystals.

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