Uric Acid & Gout: Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention
Gout is a very common form of arthritis plaguing over 3 million people per year. What is it and why does it pop up? Well, it has everything to do with a chemical called uric acid.
It’s something that sounds foreboding, but it’s actually entirely normal, safe, and healthy – until you have too much of it.
Below, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about uric acid: what it is, why it leads to gout, the symptoms it creates, and what you can do about it.
What Is Uric Acid?
Uric acid is a waste product your body creates as it breaks down something called purines.
Purines are a perfectly safe and normal compound found in the DNA and RNA of humans, animals, and some plants. Your body makes them, and you also eat them.
In a healthy body, purines will break down into uric acid, which essentially lives in your blood. Eventually, the uric acid will filter through your kidneys and then exit through your urine. Sometimes a very little amount will leave through stool.
Why Does Uric Acid Lead to Gout?
Uric acid can become a problem when your body is producing too much of it or when your body isn’t properly getting rid of it.
This uric acid buildup can then turn into something called urate crystals. These are really sharp, needle-like crystals that travel to a joint (with gout, it’s often your big toe joint, but it can be anywhere) and cause extreme inflammation.
Interestingly enough, estrogen helps keep this from being a problem, so women rarely have uric acid buildup that leads to gout. However, when their estrogen plummets during menopause, their risk goes up.
I know this is a bummer, but gout isn’t the only painful problem you can get with too much uric acid. Uric acid kidney stones are a real possibility too. Fear not – I have some tips for controlling your uric acid production at the end of this article!
The worst-case scenario would be kidney failure – though that’s very rare. Normally, a gout attack will clue you in that there’s a uric acid problem, and you’ll be able to straighten it out before it gets too bad.
RELATED: 4 Best Natural Cures For Gout
Symptoms of Gout
When you get this uric acid buildup and experience a gout attack – what does it feel like?
- Severe pain in one or more joints
- Tenderness in one or more joints
- Stiffness in one or more joints
It may also be:
- Warm to the touch
- Look red or purple
Often this gout pain comes upon suddenly with no warning. Many people say it begins in the middle of the night after you’ve been asleep for a while or early on in the morning, though it is possible for it to start at any time.
These symptoms will typically last between 3 and 10 days.
Once you realize you have gout, it is important to call your doctor. He or she will probably want to see you. They may suggest a prescription medication, or they make keep you on a home remedy regimen that looks something like this…
- Medication: Over-the-counter NSAIDs (like ibuprofen) can help you deal with the intense pain for a few days. Make sure you don’t take aspirin, however, as it can actually elevate uric acid
- Ice: Cold packs will help relieve the inflammation. Cover them in a towel and gently drape it over your joint. Something like a bag of frozen peas may feel more comfortable than a big, solid ice pack. Don’t leave it on for more than 15 minutes or so. Then repeat throughout the day.
- Rest and Elevation: Mostly, your body will just need rest. You don’t want to put any extra pressure on the joint, so plan on staying in bed/on the couch for a few days. While you’re resting, elevate the joint.
- Cherries: Cherries have been shown to lower uric acid in the body. Snack on some throughout your gout flare-up.
- Uric acid cleanse: There are natural supplements that can help bring balance back to your body’s uric acid. Top choices include: cherry extract, celery seed extract, hydrangea extract, and chanca piedra. Eu Natural’s Purge Uric Acid Cleanse and Joint Health supplement combines them all.
Your doctor may ask for a blood test to see how your uric acid levels are doing. This can actually be really helpful for you. You can see if you need to make a few small adjustments or if you need a whole diet/lifestyle overhaul.
How to Prevent a Uric Acid Buildup
Once a gout attack arrives, you can follow those treatment steps to make it as comfortable as possible, but for the most part you just have to wait it out until the pain subsides.
The most important next step is to focus on prevention. Here are some of the best steps you can take to keep a proper amount of uric acid:
- Watch your weight: Being overweight makes your body produce more uric acid and it prevents your body from properly getting rid of uric acid. It is imperative for anybody with gout risk to maintain a healthy body weight throughout their lifetime. Regular exercise is one of the best choices. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup can be a factor in increasing uric acid. Cutting them out will help your weight and your uric acid.
- Lower your purines: You’ll never be able to get rid of purines because your body makes them and you need to eat certain foods with purines to be healthy. However, you can reduce the amount by limiting very high-purine foods. Make sure to avoid game meat, organ meat, red meat, sardines, scallops, and herring.
- Limit alcohol: Beer and liquor are two of the worst things a gout sufferer can drink. They increase uric acid and make it harder to get rid of uric acid. Wine is less of a problem, but should still be enjoyed in great moderation.
- Drink plenty of water: The more urine you have, the less concentrated the uric acid will be. This helps prevent both urate crystals and uric acid kidney stones from forming.
- Stop taking diuretics: When you’re causing too much water to exit your body, that uric acid concentration will get quite high.
- Take a uric acid cleanse: You can keep taking your uric acid cleanse supplements to restore uric acid balance.
Healthy Uric Acid; Healthy Body
Once you understand what uric acid is and what it does – it can be easier to make sure you never have to deal with a gout attack (or a uric acid kidney stone, for that matter!). Of course, genetics play a big role in whether or not you’ll develop gout. If your family members have dealt with this type of arthritis, be very mindful about following my tips for lowering uric acid.
Read Next: Taking Celery Seed Extract for Gout Pain