Hyperuricemia: Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Dr. Nikhil Eric Saldanha

January 24, 2022

Sometimes one experiences a sharp pain in their foot. If it is swollen and red, most likely, they have gout. Gout is painful and has a debilitating effect on one’s mental and physical well-being. It becomes challenging to arrest gout without proper medical and nutritional intervention. However, gout is the effect, and hyperuricemia is the cause. 

Hyperuricemia simply means high uric acid levels in your blood. Uric acid is a metabolic waste product present in the bloodstream. The body’s breakdown of molecules called purines leads to uric acid formation. Most uric acid is dissolved in the blood, travels via the kidneys, and exits through urine. However, sometimes overproduction or less excretion of uric acids may lead to excess uric acids in your blood. This condition is hyperuricemia. Therefore, foods rich in purine may raise uric acid levels.

Is Gout the Same as Hyperuricemia?

High uric acid levels can lead to several illnesses. The condition can cause various disorders like gout, a severe form of arthritis. In addition, excessive uric levels may also lead to multiple health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and renal disease. The most recent study suggests that the cases of hyperuricemia have risen dramatically since the 1960s.

Cause of Hyperuricemia

Hyperuricemia is a common disorder that affects patients of all ages and genders. Usually, your body eliminates uric acid via urination. However, hyperuricemia occurs when the body produces too much or eliminates insufficient uric acid. It generally occurs because your kidneys fail to completely excrete uric acid.

Excess uric acid in the bloodstream may result in the production of crystals. Although they may occur everywhere in the body, you will mostly see them in and around joints and kidneys. When white blood cells in your body’s defence system assaults the crystals, it results in inflammation and discomfort.

Hyperuricemia: Symptoms & Diagnosis

Hyperuricemia itself isn’t a disease or a disorder. Nevertheless, prolonged periods of hyperuricemia can lead to several diseases. 

A blood sample is drawn and examined to detect the amount of uric acid in your blood. It is called serum uric acid test, serum urate, or UA. The standard upper limit is 6.8mg/dL, and anything over 7 mg/dL is considered saturated, and is a sign of hyperuricemia. This elevated level results from increased production and decreased excretion of uric acid or a combination of both the processes. In addition, if you produce renal stones or have one removed surgically, the stone is analysed to determine if it is uric in nature. After this process, you can get an accurate diagnosis.

General symptoms of high uric acid are:

  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Rigidity 
  • Difficulty in movement
  • Inflammation: red and swollen areas
  • Pain in the back and abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Urge to urinate
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Bloody urine

Elevated uric acid levels may ultimately result in irreversible bone, joint, tissue damage and renal issues. In addition, research indicates a correlation between high uric acid levels and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and fatty liver disease.

Disorders Associated With Hyperuricemia

People with hyperuricemia are vulnerable to gout and kidney stones.

1. Gout

Gout affects patients with hyperuricemia and is the most common repercussion of uric acid. It may manifest itself in solitary bouts or flare-ups. However, some individuals suffer from chronic gout due to a series of uric acid hikes over a short period.

Although gout flares often begin in the big toe, they can affect other joints in the body. However, it usually affects one joint. Gout may also manifest itself in the foot, ankle, knee, and elbow.

Gout flares strike unexpectedly and frequently at night. The assaults reach their peak severity between 12 and 14 hours. Even if left untreated, episodes of gout usually resolve within two weeks.

2. Glycogen Storage Disease

It is a rare condition that alters how your body stores and uses glycogen. Glycogen is a form of sugar or glucose and is a primary energy source. It is stored in the liver, and the enzymes break it down to convert it into glucose. 

There are numerous types of GSD. The most common ones are types I, III, and IV. It usually victimises children as it is hereditary. It happens when there is an abnormal gene in both the parents.

The general symptoms of GSD are poor growth, heat intolerance, and easy bruising. In addition, it also causes low blood sugar, enlarged liver, and swollen belly. Your doctor diagnoses GSD by taking a small tissue sample or biopsy and testing the presence of certain enzymes.

3. Hyperparathyroidism

Hyperparathyroidism is a condition when there is an excess of parathyroid hormone in the bloodstream. Parathyroid glands are present behind the thyroid at the bottom of your neck. Their measurement is about the size of a grain of rice.

The signs and symptoms of hyperparathyroidism are osteoporosis, kidney stones, and excessive urination. They also cause abdominal pain, weakness, and depression. You should immediately contact your doctor if you suffer from any of these symptoms.

Risk factors of primary hyperthyroidism increase if you are a woman who has just gone through menopause, a person with prolonged calcium or vitamin D deficiency, and a disorder affecting multiple glands.

4. Tophaceous Gout

After several years of hyperuricemia, uric acid crystals in your body can form clumps called tophi. You will find these hard lumps under your skin and around your joints. In addition, you may also find them in the curve at the top of your ear. The condition can worsen joint pain and damage your joints or compress your nerves after some time. In addition, they’re often visible and can become disfiguring.

5. Kidney Stones

Uric acid crystals may accumulate in your kidneys and induce the formation of stones. Often, the stones are tiny and discharge into your urine. However, they may sometimes get too big to pass and obstruct portions of your urinary system. It may cause urinary tract infection or renal infection. 

This accumulation of urine creates an excellent growing environment for germs. UTIs (Urinary Tract Infection) is thus prevalent in those who have kidney stones.

Preventing Hyperuricemia

Prevention is always better than cure, and the same goes for hyperuricemia. However, you can make some diet and lifestyle changes to prevent hyperuricemia. Some may even help bring levels down. It is always good to consult a physician or talk to a nutritionist to regulate the uric acid levels in your body. 

Certain dietary adjustments may aid in lowering your blood’s uric acid level. In addition, if your hyperuricemia is associated with gout, dietary adjustments may help you avoid gout attacks and decrease the course of joint damage.

Foods to Consume

Some foods are naturally low in purines. Additionally, they possess antioxidant and alkaline properties. These can help with two things. 

  • Antioxidants aid metabolism and help your body get rid of its waste quicker. In addition, it results in the rapid excretion of uric acid via urination. Thus, your uric acid levels reduce.
  • Alkalis are antacids. In other words, they cancel out the effect of acids. Therefore, foods with alkaline properties can help neutralise the uric acid in your body. As a result, uric acid levels and their adverse effects are reduced.

Some dietary changes can help you bring down your existing uric acid levels. Foods that you can eat to control uric acid levels in your body are:

  • Water (Drinking lots of water results in faster urination)
  • Fruits: Banana, Apple, Cherries and Citrus Fruits
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, Pumpkin, Carrots and Celery
  • Legumes: Peas, Beans, Lentils, Tofu 
  • Whole Grains: Oats, Brown Rice and Barley
  • Dairy: Low-Fat Milk and Yoghurt
  • Coffee, tea, and green tea
  • Low-fat foods
  • Eggs 
  • Plant-based oils (Canola, Coconut, Olive)
  • Dark Chocolate: Theobromine alkaloid reduces uric acid levels. Cocoa beans contain this alkaloid.

Foods to Avoid

Bear in mind that the breakdown of purines in the body produces uric acid. Purine occurs naturally. However, our bodies also get it from some foods. Avoiding such foods can be beneficial. Some of those are: 

  • Alcohol/Liquor
  • Red Meat (Lamb, Calf, Pork, Steak)
  • Organs (Liver, Kidney, Pancreas)
  • Seafood (Shellfish, Scallops, Shrimp)
  • Certain Fish (Herring, Trout, Mackerel, Tuna, Sardines, Anchovies, Haddock)
  • Sugar Foods (Soda, Sweet Juices, Ice cream, Candy)
  • Whole foods (Oatmeal, Wheat, Bran)
  • Yeast-based foods (Cakes, Cookies)

All of these are high in purines. However, it only helps lower the intake of uric acid. 

Lifestyle Changes 

Changes in diet are a precursor to the battle against hyperuricemia. However, a changed diet can only take you so far. Nevertheless, small lifestyle changes can help a lot in easing hyperuricemia.

Exercise & Yoga

Daily exercise can go a long way in this fight. Research explains obesity to be a factor in hyperuricemia and gout. Also, abdominal exercises help your body achieve better digestion. Being overweight or generally unfit can be problematic for gout patients. Therefore, you should practice yoga and activities to manage weight and cut down on uric acid levels in your body.

Healthy Mindset

The fight against gout can be a long one. Hyperuricemia generally takes time to cure and has painful symptoms. It can sometimes result in a person feeling discouraged and helpless. However, there are treatments for it. Being mentally fit is almost as important as physical fitness.

Hyperuricemia: Treatment

There are many different forms of treatment for gout and hyperuricemia. You can administer medicines to fight symptoms and pain. However, if too many crystals are present, you may need surgical intervention. 

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs give pain relief in patients with gout. However, it is critical not to exceed the daily prescribed amount of NSAIDs since it may result in liver damage.
  • Uricosuric Drugs: These medications function by inhibiting urate reabsorption. As a result, they prevent the deposition of uric acid crystals in your tissues. Probenecid and sulfinpyrazone are examples of uricosuric medicines.
  • Xanthine Inhibitors: You may prevent gout using xanthine inhibitors such as allopurinol. However, if used during an episode of acute joint inflammation, it may exacerbate your gout symptoms.
  • Healthcare professionals often use Colchicine (Colcrys) to prevent or treat gout. It is especially for those who do not regularly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Probenecid works by increasing urine to excrete and reduce uric acid levels and is used to help avoid gout episodes.
  • Allopurinol and febuxostat help prevent gout by lowering the uric acid level in the blood.
  • Rasburicase transforms uric acid into a form that your kidneys can more readily eliminate.
  • Tophaceous gout is treated similarly to gout. Tophi may need surgical intervention if they get big enough to impair joint mobility, cause harm to surrounding tissues, or protrude through the skin.


Hyperuricemia is a painful illness. It can cause mobility issues and requires significant changes in diet and lifestyle. Its treatment is equally long and enduring. However, it is not untreatable.

Many foods can alleviate the symptoms. Some can even help fight the disease itself!

Making changes may seem like a massive task at the start. Nevertheless, it is the only way through. Staying fit and healthy is paramount for diseases like these. Thus, prevention is better than cure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What will happen if you have high uric acid?

A. High uric acid levels lead to hyperuricemia, which can harm your health. It can cause irreversible bone, joint, and tissue damage. The condition can cause various disorders like gout, a severe form of arthritis. In addition, it also causes renal illness and cardiovascular problems. High uric acid levels may also lead to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.

Q. How can I reduce uric acid in my body?

A. There are many foods you can eat that naturally reduce your uric acid levels. Coffee, bananas, and citrus fruits are great for this. They produce natural bases which cancel out uric acid in the body. Also, avoiding things like alcohol and sugar will help lower your uric acid intake. In addition, some lifestyle changes might also help you reduce uric acid levels in the body.

Q. What is the main cause of uric acid?

A. The breakdown of molecules called purines in the body leads to uric acid formation. When your kidneys fail to dispose of uric acid in your body, it may cause hyperuricemia. The excess uric acid then is discharged off into your blood. Its damage to the kidneys can be due to obesity and uric-acid-rich foods. Diabetes and alcoholism are also known causes.

Q. Which food can reduce uric acid?

A. There are many foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, that can reduce uric acid. For example, bananas, coffee, green tea, and citrus fruits may help. They help your kidneys efficiently discard the excess uric acid in the body. In addition, cherries and apples are also a great food to lower uric acid levels.

Q. What colour is uric acid in urine?

A. Uric acid crystals are generally colourless. However, high uric acid brings a reddish-orange tint to your urine. It may be because of the uric acid crystals dissolving blood into your urine.

Q. Can drinking water flush out uric acid?

A. Yes. Drinking lots of water helps the body get rid of the uric acid in your body. Experts recommend drinking enough water to urinate every two hours. This way, the kidneys can get rid of the waste in the body faster.

Q. Is lemon good for uric acid?

A. Yes. Lemon is excellent for reducing uric acid. Lemons are usually very alkaline. They produce bases that can cancel out the acid in the blood. These bases raise the overall pH level of blood. So the uric acid gets neutralised by the base in lemons.

Q. Is Egg good for uric acid?

A. Yes. Uric acid forms because of foods rich in purines. Eggs are very low in purines. Also, the protein from eggs helps prevent gout. Gout is a common disease caused by excess uric acid. However, eggs don’t directly cancel out uric acid; they prevent the deposition of extra uric acid.

Q. Does rice have uric acid?

White rice has a high value of uric acid. It is rich in purines. Purines break down to form uric acid in the body. However, whole grains from brown rice are good for gout patients.

Q. Is banana good for uric acid patients?

A. Yes. Bananas are low in purines. Therefore, they are recommended for uric acid patients. In addition, eating one banana per day can help reduce the quantity of uric acid in the blood.

Q. Is milk good for uric acid?

A. Yes, drinking milk is good for reducing uric acid- especially low-fat milk. Consuming low-fat milk will lower your uric acid levels and lessen your chance of a gout attack. Milk proteins aid in the outflow of uric acid in the kidneys.

Q. Which vegetables are bad for uric acid?

A. You should limit the intake of purine containing vegetables like asparagus, spinach, cauliflower and mushrooms. That is because they can be bad for uric acid. However, vegetables rich in fibre may help reduce uric acid levels in your body. Examples of such vegetables are pumpkin, broccoli and celery.

Q. What are the first symptoms of uric acid?

There are many initial symptoms of high uric acids. These usually include but aren’t limited to:

  • Joint Pain
  • Discomfort and inflammation
  • Difficulty in urination and excretion
  • Muscle Pain

Q. What are the three symptoms of uric acid?

A. The three primary symptoms are joint and muscle pain, difficulty in urination, and inflammation. These symptoms are the most common symptoms across all gout patients. However, there may be other minor symptoms like fever, motion issues, and discomfort.

Q. What food should we avoid for uric acid?

A. You should avoid foods containing purines. Purines eventually form uric acid crystals in the kidney. Food high in purines includes alcohol, red meat, white rice, beverages high in sugar.

Q. Can uric acid cause leg pain?

A. Yes. Gout may affect any joint, although it most often affects joints towards the end of the limbs, such as the feet, ankles, knee, and fingers. The joints may also feel hot and tender.

About the Author

Dr. Nikhil did Medicine (MBBS) at St. John’s Medical College and then decided to step away to do a Master’s in Health Psychology at the University of Stirling. On the way to that, he has worked with an NGO, Enfold, on teaching sexual health education in schools and colleges to create a healthy foundation for better sexual health in the nation. He has also worked as a medical content editor with Vinformax. He has now been working with HealthifyMe to bring in a renewed user-centric perspective concerning the users' medical conditions and to support the company with more effective digital tools and devices. He hopes to help improve the healthcare scenario in India.

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