If you have gout, you may have heard your doctor talk about your uric acid level during your checkups. Uric acid is an important measurement, especially if you regularly suffer with gout attacks (also known as “flares”).1 Do you have questions about uric acid and how it relates to gout? Have you ever wondered, “What is my uric acid level?” or “What is the connection between uric acid and gout?” Read on to learn more about uric acid and how your uric acid level can affect your risk of gout attacks.
What is uric acid?
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, uric acid is a tasteless, odorless chemical compound (C5H4N4O3).2 It is created in the body as a normal by-product of purine metabolism, or processing (purines are substances that are produced naturally in the body and can also be present in certain foods and drinks.)2,3,4 A uric acid level of 6.8 mg/dL or lower is considered normal.5 A slightly higher measurement (7.0 mg/dL or more), however, is considered a risk factor for gout.5
Why is uric acid measured?
Have you been suffering with sudden episodes of excruciating pain, swelling and/or redness in one of your joints? If so, your doctor may suspect gout and order a uric acid test to confirm this diagnosis.1 Uric acid can be measured with a blood test or a urine test.4 The medical term for an abnormally high uric acid level is hyperuricemia.5
What is the connection between uric acid and gout?
For most people, uric acid dissolves in the blood, travels through the kidneys and leaves the body in the urine.6 In people with gout, however, the body either produces more uric acid than the body can remove on its own or the kidneys do not remove enough uric acid.6 As the uric acid builds up over time, urate crystals can form around the joints.2 Eventually, these crystals can trigger the intense bouts of pain, redness and swelling known as attacks, or flares.6
What can cause my uric acid level to rise?
A number of factors can cause your uric acid level to rise, increasing your risk of gout.6 These factors include your6:
- Diet—If you regularly consume high-purine foods and drinks (ie, steak, organ meats, seafood and sugary and/or alcoholic beverages), you have a higher risk of gout.
- Weight—If you are overweight, your body may produce more uric acid than your kidneys can remove, putting you at risk for gout.
- Family history—If gout runs in your family, you are more likely to develop the disease.
- Gender—If you are male, your risk of developing gout is higher than it would be if you were female.
How can I reduce my uric acid level?
If your uric acid level is higher than normal and you believe you have suffered a gout attack as a result, see your doctor as soon as you can. Medication often is the most effective way to reduce the amount of uric acid in the body and prevent gout attacks.1 Many people with gout take a urate-lowering therapy (ULT) called allopurinol to reduce the amount of uric acid in their bloodstream.7 Your doctor may also recommend regular exercise and weight loss (if you need to lose weight).1 Maintaining a healthy body weight can help reduce your risk of gout.1 Your doctor may also suggest dietary changes, like limiting your intake of high-purine foods and drinks.6
What do I need to know about ULT?
If and when you start ULT, be aware that your risk of gout flares may temporarily increase.7 As the uric acid level in the bloodstream goes down, the urate crystals around the affected joint can begin to dissolve, increasing the chance of a flare.7 Fortunately, anti-inflammatory treatments such as colchicine can help prevent gout flares in adults who are taking allopurinol or another ULT.7 Colchicine is the active ingredient in Mitigare® (Colchicine) 0.6 mg Capsules, a prescription drug that is indicated for the prevention of gout flares in adults.8
What else do I need to know about uric acid and gout?
If you have gout, one of the most important things you can do is maintain good communication with your doctor and visit him or her regularly. In addition to working with you to make sure your uric acid level stays in a healthy range, your doctor can help you to effectively manage your gout and strive to maintain your long-term health.
Mitigare® is a registered trademark of Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.
Colchicine 0.6 mg capsules are contraindicated in patients with renal or hepatic impairment who are currently prescribed drugs that inhibit both P-gp and CYP3A4. Combining these dual inhibitors with colchicine in patients with renal or hepatic impairment has resulted in life-threatening or fatal colchicine toxicity. Patients with both renal and hepatic impairment should not be given Mitigare®.
Fatal overdoses have been reported with colchicine in adults and children. Keep Mitigare® out of the reach of children.
Blood dyscrasias such as myelosuppression, leukopenia, granulocytopenia, thrombocytopenia and aplastic anemia have been reported with colchicine used in therapeutic doses.
Monitor for toxicity and, if present, consider temporary interruption or discontinuation of colchicine.
Drug interaction with dual P-gp and CYP3A4 inhibitors: Co-administration of colchicine with dual P-gp and CYP3A4 inhibitors has resulted in life-threatening interactions and death.
Neuromuscular toxicity and rhabdomyolysis may occur with chronic treatment with colchicine in therapeutic doses, especially in combination with other drugs known to cause this effect. Patients with impaired renal function and elderly patients (including those with normal renal and hepatic function) are at increased risk. Consider temporary interruption or discontinuation of Mitigare®.
The most commonly reported adverse reactions with colchicine are gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
NOTE: This article was not written by a medical professional and is not intended to substitute for the guidance of a physician. These are not Hikma’s recommendations for gout flare prevention, but rather facts and data collected from various reliable medical sources. For a full list of resources and their attributing links, see below.