Conditions Resulting in High Uric Acid

Uric acid is a by-product of the metabolic processes continuously occurring in the body. In particular, it is produced from the biochemical degradation of nitrogenous purine compounds or nucleotides called guanine and adenine, which are essential components of the DNA, your genetic material. If you have painful and swollen joints due to high uric acid levels, you might think that it would be better to have no uric acid at all. However, uric acid is normally present in the body. It is when it reaches excessive amounts that it begins to cause disorders.

Here are some conditions resulting in high uric acid levels.

Hyperuricemia

Since DNA is present in all organisms, anything you eat, whether from plant or animal sources, would serve as a source of nucleotides and, consequently, uric acid. However, since some parts of animals or some species of plants have more DNA, these food sources would provide more nucleotides and would lead to higher uric acid levels when consumed. Examples of these foods include animal liver, thymus, pancreas and kidneys. If you consume these foods regularly, you are at greater risk of having hyperuricemia, or the condition of having excess uric acid in the blood.

To maintain a normal level of uric acid, your kidneys should process this substance and allow its elimination through the urine. However, this mechanism can be overwhelmed in two ways: through the increased production and through the decreased elimination of uric acid. Through these methods, you can have hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia can cause gouty arthritis or simply gout, kidney stones and uric acid nephropathy (kidney disease). These conditions occur when the blood and other body fluids (joint or synovial fluid and urine) become supersaturated with uric acid. Once this happens, urate crystals form from uric acid and accumulate in the joints and kidneys. If you suspect that you have high uric acid levels or if you have any of the conditions mentioned, it would be best to consult a doctor.

Death of Cells

The accelerated breakdown of nucleotides occurs in conditions that involve the death of cells, which can eventually cause increased uric acid production. For instance, if you have cancer and you undergo chemotherapy, many of your cells are killed. This would lead to the release of purines, which would then be broken down to produce uric acid. Increased production of uric acid is also observed in conditions such as heart attack and respiratory failure (as what happens if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Age-Related Illnesses

Decreased uric acid excretion can occur due to aging. This is the reason why if you are a senior, you have higher chances of elevated uric acid levels than young people. Other conditions that lead to decreased uric acid elimination include hypertension, kidney diseases and hypothyroidism.

Intake of Substances

Intake of substances, such as aspirin (greater than 2 g per day), diuretics (like hydrochlorothiazide, a drug for hypertension), levodopa, ethambutol and pyrazinamide (antituberculosis drugs), cyclosporine (chemotherapeutic drug for cancer or for immune diseases) and alcohol, can also cause high uric acid levels due to diminished elimination from the body.

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