The condition of high uric acid levels in blood is known as hyperuricemia. Uric acid is a by-product, which is formed in the body when purines (a nitrogen based compound) are broken down during metabolism. Uric acid is soluble in water and is excreted through urine. Rise in the level of this waste product is obviously not a healthy sign. Purine is obtained from various food sources and is also produced within the body. In some people, the problem of high uric acid levels is genetic. Others may develop it due to over consumption of purine rich foods, excessive alcohol intake or side effects of some medicines. Obese people and patients with hypothyroidism are at a great risk of getting this problem.
Dangers of High Uric Acid Levels
High levels of uric acid in the blood can lead to several serious health complications. Some of them are discussed here -
- High uric acid levels often leads to gout, which is a type of arthritis. In this condition, hard crystals of uric acid get accumulated in the joint fluid and causes inflammation in the area. It firstly affects the big toe joints but later on, it may occur in the knees, ankle, elbow and wrist as well. Common gout symptoms are severe joint pain, which is accompanied by joint swelling, stiffness and reddening of the skin. Too much uric acid build up in the joint can lead to formation of painful sores that oozes out white pus. Gout can be so severe that it adversely affects the range of motion of the joint. It may even lead to joint deformity.
- Rise in uric acid levels increases the risk of atherosclerosis. This causes clogging of the arteries of the body by plaque deposits. As a result, normal blood flow through them is not possible and leads to high blood pressure and heart disease. Even those people who do not have any medical history of heart problems develop heart disease because of this reason.
- High uric acid levels have a damaging effect on the kidneys. High concentration of uric acid in the urine often triggers formation of kidney stones. Besides, it can cause chronic kidney disease and the kidneys stop functioning normally. It has serious health risks as the body cannot get rid of its waste material properly. Kidney damage has other long term effects in the body. There will be decrease in the production of red blood cells due to lack of erythropoietin hormone, which is secreted by the kidneys and promotes production of red blood cells. This gives rise to a life-threatening condition.
- People with high uric acid levels may develop diabetes mellitus in the long run which is characterized by high levels of blood sugar level. If diabetes remains uncontrolled, then it can cause damage to the vital organs of the body. It can affect the vision of the eyes and cause blindness. Any body part which is severely affected by diabetes requires amputation.
How to Reduce High Uric Acid Levels?
When the level of uric acid in blood lies in between 3.0 and 7.0 mg/dL, then it is considered as normal. When it goes above that, then it is a cause of concern. This problem is detected during a blood uric acid test. When its level is slightly elevated, doctors usually recommend some changes in diet and lifestyle to restore its normal levels.
Doctors advice the patients not to have purine rich foods like eggs, meats, fatty fish, mushroom, canned foods, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, etc. The foods that are included in low purine diet are milk, fruits, peanut butter, nuts, cherries, fresh and raw vegetables, etc. Lot of garlic in daily diet can control the effects of uric acid in the body to some extent. You also have to drink plenty of water to flush out the toxins. High levels of uric acid has to be brought down with the help of suitable medicines. Supplements of vitamin C are highly effective in reducing the levels of uric acid. If high uric acid has caused some health disorder, then it has to be given proper treatment.
Do not panic after reading about the dangers of high uric acid levels. If you are diagnosed with one such problem, then do not neglect it and consult your doctor soon. You can be cured with medicines and proper diet. An early treatment can reduce uric acid levels in a few weeks time but for chronic cases, the treatment duration lasts for a long time. Even after the normal levels of uric acid are restored, you may have to continue with low purine diet as per the instructions of your doctor.