Expert Take: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment for High Uric Acid or Hyperuricemia

The medical condition for high uric acid levels is called Hyperuricemia. It can cause severe joint pain among other things.

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaPublished at: Jul 13, 2022Updated at: Jul 13, 2022
Expert Take: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment for High Uric Acid or Hyperuricemia

In most cases, high uric acid levels in the body occur when your kidneys are not able to eliminate uric acid properly. There are several factors that can lead to the slowing down of removal of uric acid such as purine rich foods, obesity, having diabetes, taking certain diuretics or water pills, and consuming excessive alcohol. Some less common causes of high uric acid levels are a diet rich in purine food items or your body producing too much uric acid. Medically called Hyperuricemia, it occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood. High uric acid levels can cause many diseases, most commonly, a painful type of arthritis called gout. Onlymyhealth talked to Prof (Dr.) Debabrata Mukherjee to get a better insight into the symptoms, causes, and treatment of Hyperuricemia. Prof (Dr.) Debabrata Mukherjee is the director of Nephrology & Renal Transplant, Max Hospital, Gurugram

Hyperuricemia symptoms

If left untreated, high uric acid levels can result in permanent bone, joint, and tissue damage, as well as kidney and heart disease. According to Dr. Mukherjee, the most common symptoms of high uric acid levels include: 

  • Gout (causes inflammation, joint pain, stiffness, and redness)
  • Kidney stones
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 

Causes of high uric acid 

Uric acid is basically a waste product present in your bloodstream. It gets produced when the body breaks down chemicals called purines. Any individual can have hyperuricemia, but it is more common in men than women, and the risk is higher with increasing age. The possible causes of high uric acid levels in the body are: 

  • Genetics
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Too much alcohol intake 
  • Purine rich diet 
  • Dehydration 

Hyperuricemia treatment

To diagnose hyperuricemia, blood samples are collected and tested to know about the levels of uric acid in the blood. If you flush a kidney stone or undergo a surgery to get it removed, there is a chance that the stone also might be tested to determine if it is a uric acid stone or a different kind of stone. High blood uric acid level is not exactly similar to diagnosing gouty arthritis. The treatment for hyperuricemia mostly depends on the underlying cause.

If your condition is asymptomatic, treatment is not suggested by most experts. If your hyperuricemia is being caused due to an underlying medical condition, the condition should be treated. As per Dr. Mukherjee, here are some things that can help in managing uric acid levels

1. Dietary changes 

red meat

Certain dietary changes can help in reducing the levels of uric acid in your blood. If your hyperuricemia is related to gout, dietary modifications can lower the risk of gout attack, and slow down the severity and progression of joint damage. Some foods that should be avoided in such situations include: 

  • Red meat 
  • Seafood
  • Sugary foods and beverages
  • Fish (tuna, cod, herring)
  • Alcohol drinks
  • Lentils and beans 

2. Drink lots of water 

Along with reducing purines, it is also important to drink enough fluids, specifically water. Keeping your body hydrated is associated with fewer gout attacks. Try to have at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids every day. Talk to your doctor about how much liquid you should take.

Hyperuricemia can lead to the formation of crystals of uric acid in the body. These crystals can get collected in the joints and commonly cause gout, which is a form of arthritis that can be extremely painful. If you experience any warning signs of high uric acid levels, it is best to visit the doctor for further diagnosis and treatment. Make sure to take care of your diet and other lifestyle habits to manage the condition.