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What Breaks Down Excess Uric Acid in the Body?

by
author image Carole Anne Tomlinson
Carole Anne Tomlinson is a registered nurse with experience in rehabilitation, nutrition, chemical dependency, diabetes and health problems related to the elderly. Tomlinson holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and is presently working on her master's degree in nursing. Her screenplays have been viewed by Merchant Ivory, Angela Lansbury and Steven King's associates.
What Breaks Down Excess Uric Acid in the Body?
Close up of stinging nettle. Photo Credit Jevtic/iStock/Getty Images

Excess uric acid in your body can cause two major medical problems: uric acid kidney stones and a form of arthritis called gout. If your kidneys do not push enough uric acid out of your body through urination because of a hereditary condition, the substance can form either into small hard “stones” in your kidneys or sharp crystals in your joints. Uric acid stones can cause significant pain as they pass through your urethra. Uric acid crystals inflame your joints, usually in your feet, causing extreme pain during a gout attack. Removing excess uric acid from your body can help prevent uric acid kidney stones and gout attacks, but does not cure either condition.

Allopurinol

If you have either uric acid kidney stones or chronic gouty arthritis, your doctor may prescribe allopurinol as a prophylactic measure. This medication works in your body to decrease the amount of uric acid in your system. Your doctor will prescribe a daily dose in accordance with the severity of your uric acid kidney stones or gout. Drugs.com notes that a low dose runs from 100 to 200 mg per day, while a high-end dose does not typically exceed 800 mg each day. While allopurinol, taken with a full glass of water, will help decrease your uric acid levels and thus decrease the frequency and severity of flare-ups, it does not cure either medical condition. It also does not help decrease pain during a gout attack or the passage of a stone.

Febuxostat

Like allopurinol, febuxostat also decreases excess uric acid in your system. During your initial use of febuxostat, the chances of gout flare-ups may actually increase. It can take up to six months for the medication to work properly to help decrease or prevent attacks. For this reason, Drugs.com notes, your physician may prescribe other medicines to use at the same time as febuxostat for a while. She may prescribe colchicine, which helps decrease flare-ups and helps reduce inflammation during an attack. She may prescribe indomethacin or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to relieve pain.

Probenecid

As a uricosuric medicine, probenecid helps to flush more uric acid out of your body than usual through urination. This medication also comes in a combination with colchicine. It can produce some serious side effects that include arrhythmias such as tachycardia, an accelerated heartbeat, or an irregular heart rate. It also can cause breathing problems among other serious side effects, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes. Seek medical attention if these problems occur.

Herbal Supplements

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any herbal supplements as medical treatments for reducing uric acid levels in your body. However, some traditional supplements may provide some of the same uric acid reducing benefits as medications. These include devil’s claw and stinging nettle. Both of these herbal supplements have had use treating gout in folk medicine. Other substances such as cherries, coffee and vitamin C also may decrease your uric acid levels, MayoClinic.com notes. Ask your doctor about the possible use of herbal supplements to reduce uric acid in your system, and seek his approval if you take other medications.

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