URIC ACID: causes, symptoms, complications, treatments

You will find in this video and in this health, wellness blog post:

- The definition of uric acid

- The causes of high uric acid levels

- The symptoms of high uric acid

- The consequences of high uric acid levels

- Uric acid and a gout attack

- Nutrition in case of high uric acid

- Recommendations and advice to limit the increase of uric acid

Uric acid is a molecule resulting from the degradation of certain foods, it also comes from the destruction of dead cells in our body during cell renewal.
Uric acid is the result of the transformation of molecules called purine.

Purines are molecular structures, i.e. they are part of the composition of different molecules.

They belong to the group of nitrogenous bases which have a very specific chemical formula, they are composed of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen atoms.

Purines are mainly found in DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecules.
I make a small recall, our body is formed of organs, which are made up of tissues, these last ones are formed by numerous cells.

Our cells contain a nucleus where our genetic code called DNA is located. This one is read by the cell to form another simpler molecule called RNA. It is thanks to the code contained in the RNA that the cell can make the proteins necessary for the proper functioning of our body.

Purines are also present in other molecules such as ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is the energy source of our cells, but also in different enzymes (chemical reaction activator) and in plant compounds such as some pigments like xanthine (yellow pigment).

Caffeine (present in coffee and tea), theophylline (present in tea) and theobromine (mostly present in cocoa and a little in coffee and tea) are xanthine derivatives.

These compounds are transformed into uric acid within our body to reach the kidneys and be eliminated through urine.

In relation to xanthines, it is interesting to know that they also have diuretic properties, that is to say that they promote the elimination of urine, so they do not cause an increase in uric acid, but on the contrary it promotes its elimination.

Uric acid from our food accounts for only 30% of the total uric acid in our bodies. 70% of the uric acid in our body comes from the destruction of our dead cells during cell renewal.

In fact, our cells are constantly renewing themselves; they come into the world, follow their life's missions and die to make room for new cells. This is called the cell cycle.

Normally, uric acid is eliminated through the urine, but when too much uric acid is produced or the kidneys are not able to eliminate it properly, the level of uric acid in the blood increases and it can be deposited in the joints. Immune cells detect the abnormal presence of uric acid crystals in the joints and try to destroy them, which causes the inflammation called a gout attack,

These uric acid crystals can also be deposited in the urinary tract and block the passage of urine, this is renal colic. It is caused by the formation of kidney stones based on uric acid.

Foods that contain a large amount of purines are mainly animal foods such as meat, offal, fermented cheese, fish (herring, sardines, mackerel, ...), shrimp and shellfish. Some plants are also rich in purines like oilseeds such as peas, dried beans, ...

Alcohol and beer also increase the level of uric acid.
An increase in uric acid in the blood is called hyperuricemia, which can have different causes: excessive physical activity (during physical exercise, cells are in intensive renewal, they are destroyed and they are rebuilt, which causes an increase in cellular waste and therefore uric acid), a diet rich in purine (protein diet, with a lot of protein) too much alcohol consumption, kidney failure, heredity as well as certain blood diseases where there is a significant destruction of blood cells.

Uric acid levels can also increase after chemotherapy or after taking various medications such as laxatives used to fight constipation.

Women tend to have lower uric acid levels than men. People who are obese usually have higher than normal uric acid levels. Pregnancy can also increase uric acid levels.

Decreased uric acid levels in the blood are rare and can be caused by genetic diseases or exposure to heavy metals such as lead.

To find out what the uric acid level is, the doctor will order a blood test. The normal level of uric acid in the blood is between 40 to 60 mg/L for men, 30 to 50 mg/L for women.

The standards may differ slightly from one laboratory to another depending on the technique used for the determination.

The main treatment for hyperuricemia is allopurinol, which reduces the internal production of uric acid. It is very important to have a regular follow-up during the treatment to avoid a rise in uric acid and its possible complications such as a gout attack or kidney stones. It is also very important to follow the treatment carefully, because the uric acid level can rise again very easily after a few days of stopping allopurinol.
Allopurinol can cause side effects such as skin reactions (redness, itching, etc.) in some people. In this case, you should absolutely contact your doctor and stop the treatment. It can also be responsible for dizziness, so you must be vigilant and talk to your doctor if they appear. To limit potential digestive problems with this treatment, it is advised to take it after meals.

This medication can interact with other treatments such as certain chemotherapies, treatments given to fight against high blood pressure, asthma, ... Inform your doctor of all your treatments.

It is also very important to drink at least 1.5 L of water per day and to limit foods rich in purines. Prolonged youth, intense fatigue and stress are factors that can lead to an increase in uric acid and should be avoided as much as possible.

Dr. Noura Marashi (doctor of pharmacy, health youtuber, creator of the health and well-being application Pharmaquiz),

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