For the more than 9 million people in the United States with gout, any steps toward preventing an attack are steps worth taking. And that starts with understanding the role uric acid plays in your body and how to keep these levels in check.
Since May is Arthritis Awareness Month, our team at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle is devoting our blog posts to arthritis and your feet. Here, we take a closer look at what causes high levels of uric acid in your body and how keeping these levels in check can help prevent a gout attack.
In the simplest of definitions, uric acid is a waste product created when your body processes and breaks down purines. Uric acid is found in your blood and, under normal circumstances, your body filters the waste through your kidneys and expels it through your urine.
If you have high levels of uric acid in your blood, it leads to a condition called hyperuricemia. One of the complications of hyperuricemia is gout, which occurs when uric acid builds up in one of your joints, most commonly the joint in your big toe. This build-up comes in the form of sharp crystals that can create significant pain in your toe.
Another complication of hyperuricemia is kidney stones, which makes managing uric acid levels even more essential.
Now, let’s examine how to influence the levels of uric acid in your body. As we mentioned, uric acid is a byproduct of processing purines, which are chemical compounds found in certain foods, such as:
Purines are also found, in lesser amounts, in red meat, pork, turkey, and chicken.
While these foods are high in purines, which can raise the levels of uric acid in your body, you can also have high levels for other reasons. For example, if you're on diuretics, you’re more susceptible to hyperuricemia.
As well, high levels of uric acid may not have anything to do with diet but a problem with how your body filters the uric acid.
If you have gout, we first evaluate why you have high levels of uric acid in your body and what we can do to lower them. Diet is one avenue, but some medications can manage hyperuricemia. In most cases, your gout management plan will include both approaches — tweaking your diet and taking medications.
If you want to learn more about how to best manage your gout, please contact one of our offices in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Gallatin, Columbia, Pulaski, Hendersonville, or Lebanon, Tennessee, to schedule an appointment.