What is Uric Acid?
This test measures the amount of uric acid in your blood. Uric acid is a nitrogenous compound that is formed as a byproduct of metabolic activities and is eliminated by the kidneys. This test is done to diagnose gout and to check the efficacy of medication that lowers uric acid. Your doctor may advise this test if you have symptoms like pain and swelling in the joints, joints that feel warm when touched, and shiny skin around joints.
A high uric acid concentration in blood, also known as hyperuricemia, can lead to crystal formation in joints and also a risk factor of chronic kidney disease. Diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle changes can improve your uric acid level. However, medical treatment is also required in most cases.
Why is Uric Acid done?
The Uric Acid Test is performed:
· To diagnose gout upon the appearance of symptoms
· In cancer patients being treated by chemotherapy or radiotherapy to monitor their uric acid levels
· To check the efficacy of medications that lower uric acid levels
· To assess the risk of kidney stones or to determine the cause of recurrent kidney stones
What does Uric Acid Measure?
The Uric acid test measures the levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a nitrogenous compound produced by the metabolic breakdown of purine. Purines are nitrogenous bases in DNA forming parts of the structural framework of the cells. Breakdown of purines occurs when cells become old and die, forming uric acid. Uric acid is also formed from the metabolic breakdown of some types of food like red meat, seafood, beans, etc.
Most of the uric acid in the blood is filtered and eliminated by the kidneys and a small remaining amount in the stool. The concentration of uric acid in the blood can increase due to overproduction of uric acid or improper elimination of uric acid, and this condition is called Hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia can also be caused due to cancer treatment by chemotherapy or radiotherapy. These treatment methods kill the cancer cells, which may leak the uric acid into the blood.
Excess uric acid can form crystals in the synovial fluid between the joints causing inflammation and pain. This condition is called gout and can severely damage the joints if left untreated. The Uric Acid Test can indicate the presence of gout, or risk of formation of gout. However, it is not a definitive test for gout. Confirmatory test for gout is performed by analysis of synovial fluid (joint fluid) for monosodium urate crystals. Chronic Hyperuricemia can cause the formation of tophi, which are hard lumpy deposits of uric acid crystals formed under the skin, in the joints, and at the top of the ears. Tophi cause severe damage to the joints and may compress nerves causing chronic pain and disfigurement. The excess uric acid may also deposit and crystallize in the kidneys causing kidney stones and acute renal failure.
Interpreting Uric Acid results
Normal uric acid range:
· Adult Female: 2.4 to 6.0 mg/dL
· Adult Male: 3.4 to 7.0 mg/dL
· Children: 2.0 to 5.5 mg/dL
Higher than normal levels of uric acid in the blood is called Hyperuricemia and may be caused due to kidney diseases, gout, chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment.