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Uric Acid

About

Uric acid is a waste product produced from the breakdown of chemical compounds called purines. Purine occurs naturally in the body, but it is also found in the food we eat - and in some foods more than others. In healthy individuals, uric acid is excreted by the kidneys in urine, however, if levels are too high to excrete, or if you have a problem metabolising purine, then uric acid can begin to accumulate and can be deposited as crystals in the bodily tissues. When this occurs in joints it causes the painful condition known as gout.

What might a low result mean?

Slightly low levels of uric acid are not concerning and will not cause harm. Very low levels are rare, but can be caused by genetic disorders and lead to potential kidney issues.

What might a high result mean?

Elevated levels of uric acid in the blood can cause gout, a painful type of arthritis which affects the joints, particularly those of your feet and hands. This is caused when the uric acid crystals begin to build up in the joints, for example in the big toe, causing it to become very hot, red, painful and swollen. Crystals can also build up in the kidney, causing kidney stones.

How might I improve my result?

Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for gout so it is important to reduce your weight to a healthy level. You may also be able to relieve or reduce attacks of gout by avoiding foods which are high in purines. These include organ meats (like liver and kidneys), red meat, and some fish (like anchovies, sardines and tuna) and shellfish. Reducing your alcohol intake, especially red wine, and keeping your body well hydrated can also help.

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