These little-known health problems linked to high or low uric acid levels

Uric acid is a waste product of the body. Sometimes uric acid can build up in joints and tissues, causing a range of health problems. Among these is gout, a form of arthritis. In this article, we list typically low, normal, and high uric acid levels in men and women. We also explain the health problems a person can develop due to high or low levels.

Uric acid levels in men and women

It is normal to have a little uric acid in the blood. However, if the uric acid level is higher or lower than normal, it can lead to health problems. High uric acid levels can increase the risk of gout. It is unusual to have low uric acid, but it is possible if a person eliminates too much uric acid from their body as waste.

Here are the low, normal and high levels of uric acid in the blood. All amounts are expressed in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).

Uric acid level


  • Low less than 2.5 mg/dl
  • Normal 2.5-7.0mg/dl
  • High greater than 7.0 mg/dl


  • less than 1.5 mg/dl
  • 1.5-6.0mg/dl
  • greater than 6.0 mg/dl

How can uric acid build up in the body?

Purines are chemicals found naturally in the body and in certain foods. When the body breaks down purines, it creates uric acid as a waste product. The kidneys filter it from the blood and eliminate it from the body in the urine. However, uric acid can sometimes build up in the blood. The medical term for this phenomenon is hyperuricemia. It can occur if the body produces too much uric acid or does not eliminate enough of it. Excess uric acid in the blood can cause crystals to form in the joints and tissues, which can cause inflammation and symptoms of gout.

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Causes of hyperuricemia

The causes of high uric acid are not always clear. However, genetics and environmental factors, such as diet and health, both play a role.

The risk factors for hyperuricemia are:

– metabolic syndrome
– Alcohol consumption
– being a man
– high blood pressure
– diabetes
– a high purine diet
– use of diuretics

Associated medical issues

Certain conditions and treatments are also associated with high uric acid levels, including gout, cancer treatment, and kidney disease.


Gout is a form of arthritis. Symptoms come and go and usually affect only one joint. In people with this condition, uric acid builds up in the joints and tissues, causing pain, swelling, and discoloration. Gout most commonly affects the joints of the toes, ankles, and knees.

Cancer treatment

When cells die, they release purines. These release uric acid into the blood when the body breaks them down. Some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can cause cells in the body to die. Uric acid testing can be part of medical care for someone with cancer.

kidney disease

The kidneys filter waste products from the blood, including uric acid. Kidney disease damages the kidneys and prevents them from functioning normally. When this happens, waste products, including uric acid, can build up in the blood.

Fanconi syndrome

It is rare to have low uric acid. The most common condition that causes low uric acid is Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease. In people with this condition, the kidneys cannot absorb certain nutrients into the body. Fanconi syndrome can lead to lack of energy, dehydration, and bone problems. A person with this disease will have low uric acid levels because too much of this substance is eliminated from the body in the urine.

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Symptoms of high and low levels

A person with high or low uric acid levels does not always have symptoms. Symptoms may not appear until a person has had levels outside the normal range for a long time, which can lead to health problems.

Symptoms of gout, which high uric acid levels can cause, are:

– painful or swollen joints
– joints warm to the touch
– Shiny, discolored skin around the joints.

Symptoms of a kidney stone, which high levels of uric acid can also cause, are:

– back pain
– side pain
– frequent urination
– cloudy, unusual-smelling, or bloody urine
– nausea or vomiting.

Low uric acid levels are less common than high levels. A person with low uric acid may urinate more than usual, which can cause dehydration if they don’t drink enough water.


A uric acid test measures the amount of uric acid in the blood or urine. A person may need this test if they have symptoms of gout or kidney stones or are undergoing treatment for cancer. The test does not involve any risk.

A doctor may take a small sample of blood using a needle or ask the person to collect their urine over a 24-hour period. Lab technicians will then analyze the sample to determine the level of uric acid. Doctors may also sometimes perform joint aspiration, in which they use a needle and syringe to remove a small amount of fluid from the swollen joint. The presence of uric acid crystals in the fluid indicates the presence of gout.

Sometimes a person has high uric acid levels but no symptoms of a health problem. She is unlikely to need treatment unless she develops symptoms.

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Treatment of high and low rates

Some foods contain purines, which create uric acid when the body breaks them down. A diet that is too high in purines can lead to a buildup of uric acid in the blood. It is not possible to completely avoid purines because small amounts are present in many foods. However, a person can follow a low-purine diet and take other steps to help lower purine levels.

Foods that contain moderate or high levels of purines include the following:

– the alcohol
– bacon
– Turkey
– the veal
– offal
– shellfish
– trout
– haddock
– anchovies
– sardines
– herring
A gout sufferer may wish to limit these foods in their diet. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids can reduce pain and inflammation, helping to treat an acute flare-up of gout.

Prevent high uric acid levels

Steps can also be taken to prevent gout flare-ups. These measures include:

– avoid alcohol
– reach or maintain a moderate weight
– protect the joints with gentle, non-impact exercises, such as walking, cycling and swimming.

A gout sufferer usually needs a uric acid test every 6 months.
Keeping uric acid levels within a certain range can reduce pain, joint damage, and gout complications.


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