About High Uric Acid and Gout
High uric acid, also called hyperuricemia, is a build-up of an excess of this substance in the blood. It is a waste product of the metabolism, or breakdown, of purines, natural compounds found in our own bodies and in many foods. Once the body produces uric acid, it enters the bloodstream to be carried to the kidneys, which usually filter it from the blood to be eliminated from the body via urination. However, in some people, that process of regulating uric acid levels is not as efficient as it should be, causing levels in the blood to rise. The issue may be overproduction, poor elimination of it from the body, or some combination of both.
When too much uric acid collects in the bloodstream, it can form crystals that accumulate in the body. When those crystals accumulate in and around joints, they can cause gout, an extremely painful form of inflammatory arthritis. They can also collect in the kidneys, where they can lead to kidney stones.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Help
Healthy lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of developing high uric acid levels and gout. Since health conditions such as being overweight and obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol are risk factors for elevated levels, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, maintaining a healthy body weight and getting plenty of regular exercise are essential to prevention. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption should be avoided, since these habits can also increase uric acid levels.
Additionally, limiting your consumption of foods that are high in purines can help maintain healthy uric acid levels. The National Kidney Foundation recommends a diet that consists of mostly vegetables and fruits, whole grains and low fat dairy products, and limits alcohol, meat, seafood and sugar sweetened foods and drinks, especially those that contain high fructose corn syrup. They also recommend drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily, and avoiding crash diets for weight loss, since they can cause metabolic changes that make elimination of this acid more difficult.1
Medications that Help Curb High Uric Acid Levels
If lifestyle changes alone are not enough to prevent high uric acid and gout attacks, your doctor can prescribe medications to help maintain healthy levels. Some of the most commonly used are medications like allopurinol and febuxostat, which can help reduce the amount of uric acid your body produces, and drugs like probenecid and sulfinpyrazone that can help the body eliminate this substance more efficiently. Which type is best for you will depend upon the underlying causes of elevated uric acid. In some cases, a combination of both types may be used for adequate control of this chemical.
So yes, it is possible for some people to prevent high uric acid, and thereby minimize gout attacks. By keeping tabs on your uric acid levels with regular medical checkups, eating right, exercising and, if necessary, taking medications prescribed by your doctor, you can keep this substance at healthy levels, reducing your risk of worsening your gout symptoms.