Uric acid is a substance produced naturally by the breakdown of purine (a type of dietary protein) . When it is in excess in the body, crystals composed of these substances are formed.
These crystals are deposited in various parts of the body, mainly in the joints and kidneys, causing pain and other aggravations.
The lack or excess of uric acid in the body is caused by some diseases (such as leukemia , obesity , kidney diseases and anemia ) and factors related to lifestyle (consumption of alcohol and processed foods , for example).
- 1 Where does purine come from?
- 2 Where is uric acid found?
- 3 What is high uric acid?
- 4 What can high uric acid cause?
- 5 What is low uric acid?
- 6 Tests: how to know uric acid levels?
Where does purine come from?
Purine is produced and released into the bloodstream when an amino acid is broken down by digestion.
Therefore, it is produced naturally in the body.
Purine is also found in foods such as red meat, seafood, some types of grains ( beans , for example) and in alcoholic beverages (mainly beer).
Therefore, anyone who has high rates of uric acid should avoid eating foods that contain purine.
However, normal levels are necessary for the proper functioning of the body, as they are fundamental for the construction of genetic material (DNA), in addition to being responsible for the coloring of urine and the dilation of blood vessels.
Where is uric acid found?
Once produced in the body, part of the uric acid remains in the bloodstream and the other part is filtered by the kidneys and eliminated in the urine. Understand:
Uric acid is found in the urine due to the filtering process done by the kidneys. But when this substance is produced in excess, only urine cannot eliminate it from the body.
To avoid damage caused by excess of the substance, it is important to monitor the amount of uric acid present in the urine. This can be done through laboratory tests.
In addition to the test, drinking a lot of water during the day also helps to prevent uric acid crystals, because the liquid helps the kidneys to eliminate the substance that prevents crystallization.
In the blood
Urine eliminates some of the uric acid. The other part remains circulating throughout the body through the blood.
To identify the amount of uric acid in the blood, laboratory tests are also required.
What is high uric acid?
When the amount of uric acid is high in the body, it is called hyperuricemia. In general, excess is represented by values above 6 mg / dL (in women) and above 7 mg / dL (in men) .
This condition can happen for two reasons: the production of this acid has increased or the elimination, through the urine, is not being enough.
The uric acid highest is a result of a modern and stirred life, consumption of processed foods, little water intake and physical inactivity that atrophy of joints. The use of some medications can also have an influence.
The diagnosis is made by laboratory tests that measure the amount of uric acid in the blood.
What can high uric acid cause?
Uric acid, when missing or in excess, is related to various diseases and health complications. Between them:
Crystals in the kidneys or joints
When uric acid is in excess, the kidneys are unable to properly filter the blood and, therefore, crystals composed of this acid are formed.
They stay in the joints, kidneys and gallbladder, are difficult to eliminate and cause severe pain.
In general, they are eliminated naturally in the urine, which causes pain and discomfort. Therefore, consuming plenty of water can help eliminate these crystals more quickly.
Purine-free eating and exercise can also facilitate the process.
In some more complex situations, uric acid will be eliminated with the help of medications, which can be prescribed by a rheumatologist or nephrologist.
Under normal conditions, the kidney filters uric acid and eliminates excess uric acid in the urine.
But when uric acid crystals form in the kidneys, there is a greater chance that diseases and complications will develop in this kidney, such as kidney stones and chronic or acute kidney failure.
This is because the crystallization of the substance remains inside the kidney, which prevents the organ from filtering the blood properly.
Gout and arthritis
About 20% of people who have hyperuricemia (excess uric acid) will develop gout.
The initial symptom is characterized by a crisis that lasts between 3 and 10 days with swelling in the joints of the foot accompanied by severe pain. Seizures naturally normalize within a week, on average.
Another gout crisis can take months or even years to happen again. Therefore, many people end up choosing not to have the treatment.
But if gout is not treated, the joints affected by the disease can suffer permanent deformations in the long run.
People who already have gout are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
This is because the condition stimulates constant inflammation that ends up damaging the arteries.
Blood pressure can also increase, as uric acid helps with sodium retention, causing pressure fluctuations.
What is low uric acid?
When there is a lack of uric acid in the body, it is called hypouricemia. The condition is usually characterized when the levels of the substance are below 2.4 mg / dL (in women) and 3.4 mg / dL (in men) .
This is a rare condition that usually does not cause any symptoms.
Low uric acid can happen when there is drug use or kidney and liver problems. It is divided into two types:
- Primary: when the disease is permanent. The hereditary factor is related to this type of hypouricemia;
- Acquired: when the condition is intermittent, that is, “come and go”. This type can be triggered by drug use or changes in the functioning of the kidneys and liver.
Tests: how to know uric acid levels?
Some tests may be ordered by your doctor to check the amount of uric acid in your body. To perform this analysis, laboratory tests of blood and urine collection can be done.
The blood test requires fasting for at least 3 hours. For the urine test, the first of the day should be collected or as instructed by the laboratory.
Before making a diagnosis, tell the doctor if you take any medication or dietary supplement. In some cases, it will be necessary to stop that treatment.
Results vary between laboratories and only a medical analysis can accurately interpret these tests.
Uric acid, in shortage or in excess, can cause a lot of damage to the body.
In addition to forming the crystals and causing pain and swelling in the joints, this substance is also related to gout, anemia and cardiovascular diseases.
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