Why Your Uric Acid Levels May Be High (2022)

Uric acid is a waste product found in urine. If your body makes too much or doesn't eliminate enough of it, uric acid levels can become too high—a condition known as hyperuricemia. High uric acid levels can lead to symptoms and eventually conditions like gout and kidney disease.

Most uric acid is produced naturally in your body. The rest is converted from substances in certain foods called purines. If you're diagnosed with hyperuricemia, changes to what you eat and drink may help you bring your uric acid levels back down to normal.

This article looks at hyperuricemia, its causes, and symptoms. It also discusses possible treatment.

What Uric Acid Level Indicates Hyperuricemia?

A uric acid level of 6.8 mg/dl or higher means you have hyperuricemia. A normal serum urate level for assigned females is 1.5 to 6.0 mg/dL. For assigned males, it is 2.5 to 7.0 mg/dL.

Most uric acid dissolves in the blood. From there, it travels to the kidneys to be excreted in urine. A serum uric acid blood test measures the amount of uric acid in your blood. Your uric acid level can also be checked with a urine sample.

Symptoms of Hyperuricemia

Hyperuricemia itself is not a disease. In some cases, it does not cause symptoms or problems. Still, long-term hyperuricemia may lead to the development of uric acid crystals. These can be problematic.

High uric acid levels can result in gout or kidney disease. These are the two most common conditions related to hyperuricemia.

Gout

With gout, uric acid crystals build up in the joints. This causes inflammation and the breakdown of joint cartilage.

Symptoms of gout include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Stiffness
  • Deformity
  • Inflammation
  • Limited range of motion

Why Your Uric Acid Levels May Be High (1)

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Kidney Stones

Uric acid crystals can also be deposited in the kidneys. This causes kidney stones which can be very painful. If left untreated, they can block the urinary tract and cause infections.

Symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Pain or aching in your lower back, side, abdomen, or groin
  • Nausea
  • Increased urge to urinate
  • Pain when urinating
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blood in your urine
  • Foul-smelling or cloudy urine

Kidney stones can also cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). This is because they harbor bacteria. Symptoms of a UTI are similar to those of kidney stones. There may also be fever or chills.

Over time, kidney stones and other forms of kidney damage can lead to chronic kidney disease. This makes it more difficult to get rid of uric acid.

Untreated kidney disease can lead to kidney failure or loss of kidney function.

What Causes High Uric Acid?

The primary risk factors for developing hyperuricemia include:

  • Getting older
  • Being an assigned male

Studies in the U.S. and New Zealand found that people of African, Maori, or Filipino ancestry are at higher risk than people of European ancestry.

Other risk factors include:

(Video) Best & Worst Foods to Eat with Gout | Reduce Risk of Gout Attacks and Hyperuricemia

  • Kidney disease
  • Metabolic syndrome, a disorder that involves obesity, abnormal blood pressure, blood sugar disorders, and lipid disorders
  • A diet that is high in alcohol, purines, protein, and carbohydrates
  • Medications, including thiazides, loop diuretics, and low-dose aspirin
  • Niacin
  • Acidosis
  • Chemotherapy
  • Diabetes
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Psoriasis
  • Lead poisoning
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Toxemia related to pregnancy
  • Tumor lysis syndrome
  • Family history of hyperuricemia

Hyperuricemia Treatment

If you don't have symptoms, you don't necessarily need to treat your high uric acid levels. When hyperuricemia symptoms are present, a change in diet may help. Medication is typically prescribed for cases of gout.

Diet Changes

Eating foods low in purines may help regulate hyperuricemia levels.

Avoid

  • Organ meats, meat extracts, and gravy

  • Sardines, anchovies, shellfish, and tuna

  • Beer and other alcoholic beverages

  • Sugary foods and beverages, such as soda, that contain high-fructose corn syrup

Choose

  • Milk and milk products

  • Eggs

  • Lettuce, tomatoes, and green vegetables

  • Cream soups without meat stock

  • Peanut butter and nuts

  • Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges

Drink plenty of water each day. This will help the kidneys flush out uric acid. Some studies suggest drinking coffee on a regular basis can help prevent gout. If dietary changes don't control your hyperuricemia levels, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications.

High Uric Acid Medicine

Urate-lowering therapies are the preferred medication for most individuals with gout. Options include:

  • Benemid (probenecid): This is a uricosuric medication. This drug increases excretion of uric acid in the urine.
  • Zyloprin (allopurinol), Uloric (febuxostat): These drugs are called xanthine oxidase inhibitors (XOIs). They reduce the body’s production of uric acid.
  • Zurampic (lenisurad): This is prescribed with an XOI to increase its effects.
  • Krystexxa (pegloticase): Pegloticase is given by intravenous infusion. It changes uric acid into a substance called allantoin. Your body can easily eliminate allantoin. This drug is reserved for people who have not had success with other gout medications.

How Gout Is Treated

(Video) Gout, Pathophysiology, Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatments, Animation.

Summary

Hyperuricemia occurs when you produce too much uric acid or can't eliminate enough of it. Getting older and being an assigned male are the two major risk factors for this condition.

Hyperuricemia can lead to gout, when uric acid crystals build up in the joints. It can also cause uric acid crystals to form in the kidneys. Over time, this may lead to kidney disease.

A diet low in purines may help control uric acid levels. Foods that are low in purines include milk, eggs, nuts, and citrus fruits. If you can't control your hyperuricemia with diet, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication.

A Word From Verywell

Knowing your uric acid level is just as important as knowing your cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have sore joints or frequent urinary tract infections. If you've had attacks of gout, you should have your uric acid levels tested. You'll need to test every six months to ensure that your levels stay under 6.0 mg/dl.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is lemon good for uric acid?

    In a study, individuals who drank two freshly squeezed lemons in their water per day had a decreased uric acid level when rechecked after six weeks.

  • Is uric acid the same as urea?

    No. Urea is a waste product made when protein is broken down. Uric acid is a waste product created when the body breaks down chemicals called purines.

    Learn More:Testing for High Urea

Gout Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Why Your Uric Acid Levels May Be High (2)

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(Video) 20 Foods That Reduce Your Uric Acid Levels

10 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Vargas-Santos AB, Neogi T. Management of gout and hyperuricemia in CKD. Am J Kidney Dis. 2017;70(3):422-439. doi:10.1053/j.ajkd.2017.01.055

  2. Maiuolo J, Oppedisano F, Gratteri S, Muscoli C, Mollace V.Regulation of uric acid metabolism and excretion.Int J Cardiol. 2016;213:8-14. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2015.08.109

  3. Ekpenyong CE, Clement IU, Edet CE. Risk factors for undiagnosed hyperuricemia and gout: influence of personal characteristics, life style and cardio-metabolic status: a cross sectional study.Eur J Clin Biomed Sci. 2019;5(2):27. doi:10.11648/j.ejcbs.20190502.11

  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Kidney Stones.

  5. Schwaderer AL, Wolfe AJ. The association between bacteria and urinary stones. Ann Transl Med. 2017;5(2):32. doi:10.21037/atm.2016.11.73

  6. Macfarlane LA, Kim SC. Gout: a review of nonmodifiable and modifiable risk factors. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2014;40(4):581-604. doi:10.1016/j.rdc.2014.07.002

  7. Jakše B, Jakše B, Pajek M, Pajek J. Uric acid and plant-based nutrition. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1736. doi:10.3390/nu11081736

  8. Li R, Yu K, Li C. Dietary factors and risk of gout and hyperuricemia: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2018;27(6):1344-1356. doi:10.6133/apjcn.201811_27(6).0022

  9. Cleveland Clinic. Gout Management and Treatment.

  10. BiernatkaluzaE,SchlesingerN. SAT0318 lemon juice reduces serum uric acid level via alkalization of urine in gouty and hyperuremic patients-a pilot study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases2015;74:774. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-eular.5147

Additional Reading

(Video) Detoxify Uric Acid From Kidneys – Uric Acid Gout & Kidney Stones – Dr. Berg On Kidney Cleanse

Why Your Uric Acid Levels May Be High (3)

By Carol Eustice
Carol Eustice is a writer covering arthritis and chronic illness, who herself has been diagnosed with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

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FAQs

Why would your uric acid be high? ›

Most of the time, a high uric acid level occurs when your kidneys don't eliminate uric acid efficiently. Things that may cause this slow-down in the removal of uric acid include rich foods, being overweight, having diabetes, taking certain diuretics (sometimes called water pills) and drinking too much alcohol.

What happens if your uric acid is very high? ›

If too much uric acid stays in the body, a condition called hyperuricemia will occur. Hyperuricemia can cause crystals of uric acid (or urate) to form. These crystals can settle in the joints and cause gout, a form of arthritis that can be very painful. They can also settle in the kidneys and form kidney stones.

What diseases cause high uric acid levels? ›

Elevated uric acid levels are also associated with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
...
Symptoms of gout may include:
  • severe pain in your joints.
  • joint stiffness.
  • difficulty moving affected joints.
  • redness and swelling.
  • misshapen joints.

Can uric acid be cured? ›

There is no cure for gout, and the condition can worsen over time without proper treatment. Treatments focus on reducing symptom severity during a flare-up and preventing future flare-ups. Doctors typically aim to reduce the amount of uric acid in the blood, which contributes to gout symptoms.

What are the first symptoms of uric acid? ›

Symptoms
  • Intense joint pain. Gout usually affects the big toe, but it can occur in any joint. ...
  • Lingering discomfort. After the most severe pain subsides, some joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks. ...
  • Inflammation and redness. ...
  • Limited range of motion.
Mar 6, 2021

Does high uric acid mean kidney failure? ›

Uric acid is an independent risk factor for kidney failure in earlier stages of CKD, and has a 'J-shaped' relationship with all-cause mortality in CKD.

How does uric acid leave the body? ›

Most uric acid dissolves in your blood, then goes to the kidneys. From there, it leaves the body through your urine. If your body makes too much uric acid or doesn't release enough into your urine, it can make crystals that form in your joints.

At what age does uric acid increase? ›

Uric acid increased rapidly in girls at the age of 9 years and boys at the age of 10 years, and this was consistent with the development of puberty. In China, it's normal for girls to enter puberty after 9 years old, and 10 for boys (15). Before puberty, SUA levels were almost the same between males and females.

What should be avoided in high uric acid? ›

Avoid meats such as liver, kidney and sweetbreads, which have high purine levels and contribute to high blood levels of uric acid. Red meat. Limit serving sizes of beef, lamb and pork. Seafood.

What food contains uric acid? ›

Red meat: Beef, pork, lamb, venison, and other wild mammals. Seafood and shellfish: Shrimp, mussels, anchovies, sardines, and lobster. Organ meats: Liver, kidney, heart, tongue, tripe, etc.

Which fruit is best for uric acid? ›

Grapefruit, oranges, pineapples, and strawberries are all great sources of vitamin C, which lowers your uric acid levels and helps prevent gout attacks.

Which drink is good for uric acid? ›

Drink plenty of water, milk and tart cherry juice. Drinking coffee seems to help as well. Be sure to talk with your doctor before making any dietary changes.

Is Egg good for uric acid? ›

Certain foods, such as red meat, are rich in purines. You should avoid such foods if you have gout or are at a high risk for it. This means you need to choose sources of protein that are low in purines. Eggs are a good option.

What are the first symptoms of uric acid? ›

Symptoms
  • Intense joint pain. Gout usually affects the big toe, but it can occur in any joint. ...
  • Lingering discomfort. After the most severe pain subsides, some joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks. ...
  • Inflammation and redness. ...
  • Limited range of motion.
Mar 6, 2021

What foods have high uric acid? ›

Avoid meats such as liver, kidney and sweetbreads, which have high purine levels and contribute to high blood levels of uric acid. Red meat. Limit serving sizes of beef, lamb and pork. Seafood.

What is alarming level of uric acid? ›

Generally, your uric acid level is high when: For females, it's over 6 mg/dL. For males, it's over 7 mg/dL.

Does dehydration increase uric acid? ›

Uric acid levels increase with dehydration, mainly because there is less water in the body and the blood becomes more concentrated [32, 33]. Levels return back to normal after hydrating.

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