Gout, Kidney Stones, & Your Health: Understanding the Gout and Kidney Connection
We know that gout can be traced back to the buildup of uric crystals in the joints of our body, but did you know that there are other places that these buildups can occur?
That’s right, it’s not just your joints that will suffer from gout’s painful effect. I’m talking about your kidneys. There are three major ways that your kidneys are affected by gout and they are kidney stones, kidney disease, and kidney failure.
As explored in a video released by the National Kidney Foundation, over 8 million people within the United States alone live with gout and it was their finding that there was a strong connection between gout and the kidneys. And it’s not for the good.
Why is the Kidney Affected?
First thing you should know: your greatest ally in the fight against gout is your kidneys, as they’re the only organ capable of filtering purines and unwanted waste. Purines are the compound that breaks down into uric acid. Too much purine means too much uric acid buildup.
Just like a grizzled soldier, the kidneys can carry scars from combatting high levels of purine within the body. As it fights hard to bring the levels back to where they need to be, the kidney itself will accrue uric acid buildup. This is known as hyperuricemia and it can lead to some serious implications.
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While this uric acid buildup results in shard-like crystals in your joints, it can form in a variety of harmful ways within your kidneys. The first of which, I’m sure you’re all familiar with.
It’s incredible to think that the joint pain that’s associated with gout can also have a connection to kidney stones, but it does.
One of the most common forms of kidney stones comes by way of uric acid buildup within the kidneys. Instead of shards, it forms into pebble-like shapes that then must be passed through the urethra.
Kidney stones are incredibly painful to pass and can lead to internal damage of the body if they aren’t passed seamlessly.
As noted above, the most common form of kidney stones are those formed by uric acid build up. They are a bi-product of your kidneys having to work overtime on filtering specific compounds from your body. When the role of your kidneys shies away from the main priority of filtering waste and balancing water and salt within your body, that’s when the real problems start.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Kidney disease is the term used when the kidney’s shift their function away from what they’re primarily meant to do. This may be better known as Chronic Kidney Disease, or CKD.
CKD can be caused from infection or damage, but another very common way that this occurs is when the kidney must focus on filtering high levels of purine to the point where it doesn’t have the capacity to do its other tasks.
Some of the side effects of CKD include fatigue, nausea, and a complete lack of appetite. This is traced back to the fact that your kidneys play a huge part of keeping your body energized. Without them working as they should, you won’t be working at the efficiency you need to take on the day.
Chronic Kidney Disease is the red alarm for much worse problems to come--very serious problems that all could have started from gout.
When your kidneys are fighting every day to battle levels of purine, it very well may forget how to function as it should.
Kidney failure is the complete breakdown of those functions. When the kidney’s ability to function slips below 10%, your body’s filtration shuts down and artificial means of making that happen must be put into place. This may even require a kidney transplant if your own kidneys can’t function as they should!
We naturally have two kidneys and it’s more likely that failure will start in one kidney, not both. However, it’s possible for kidney failure to start in one kidney and quickly spread to the next. In causes where kidney failure is taking place, the damaged kidney may need to be removed so the other kidney can try to work without chance of infection.
I don’t think I need to stress the seriousness of kidney failure. While there are methods in play such as dialysis and transplants, reaching the point of kidney failure is a guarantee that you’ll be living with its complications for the rest of your life.
What can I do to prevent any further damage to my kidneys?
As these risk factors can all be traced back to the over-accumulation of uric acid within the body, a change in diet will allow the kidneys to return to its primary functions with time.
Actually, you might want to check out our article on what foods you should be avoiding with gout.
Drinking healthy quantities of water also will help bring kidney function back to its normal state. As mentioned earlier, the kidneys are your body’s filtration systems, so if you’re drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day, you’ll be giving your body the proper flush that it needs. Uric acid will have a very difficult time forming into stones in all that water!
It’s also good to be aware that uric acid buildup doesn’t just form into kidney stones. It’s also possible for the shards that cause pain in the joints--better known as gout--can also form in the kidneys. These shards can cause physical damage to the organ and/or cause an infection.
These are just another two ways to induce CKD and yet another reason why a healthy diet is so important!
Your kidneys are key to keeping your body free of waste and working just as it should. By keeping yourself hydrated and within the boundaries of a healthy diet, you’re ensuring that you’ll be without the debilitating effects of kidney stones, kidney disease, and even kidney failure.