High Uric Acid Symptoms: 10 Common Signs

High uric acid symptoms, such as joint pain, redness of the skin, formation of small hard lumps in the joints or kidney cramps, generally appear when uric acid accumulates in the joints or kidneys and form into crystals.

In most cases, high uric acid levels in the blood, known as hyperuricemia, does not cause symptoms and is only identified during a blood test. Uric acid levels are considered to be high in values above 6.8 mg/dL. Urine tests can also detect uric acid crystals.

High uric acid symptoms are a sign of conditions such as gout or kidney stones. They can emerge due to an accumulation of uric acid in the blood and/or the decrease in its elimination in the urine via the kidneys. Therefore, they should be assessed by a doctor.

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Signs of high uric acid

The main symptoms of high uric acid are:

1. Joint pain and swelling

Pain and swelling in the joints is a common symptom of gout, and can appear when excess uric acid in the blood is deposited in the joints in the form of crystals. It causes inflammation, and is common to occur in the big toe or toes. hands, resulting in intense pain in the joint that lasts a few days and worsens with movement.

2. Small, hard lumps on joints

Uric acid crystals deposited in the joints of the fingers, elbows, knees and feet can lead to the formation of small, hard lumps that are painful to the touch.

In the case of gout, the big toe is most commonly affected, but it can also affect other joints such as ankles, knees, wrists and fingers. Gout is most commonly diagnosed in men, people with a family history of arthritis and people who consume excess alcohol.

3. Difficulty moving the affected joint

Due to the presence of lumps and swelling in the joints, it may be difficult to move the joint affected by the uric acid crystals.

4. Skin redness 

The inflammation caused by the deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints can also cause redness of the skin and peeling of the affected skin in the area of the lump, as well as a feeling of "sand" when touching the area where the crystals were deposited. Check out the other symptoms of gout and how it is diagnosed.

5. Severe lower back pain

Severe pain in the lower back can arise when uric acid crystals accumulate in the kidneys, causing renal cramps, and affecting the lower back, or side of the body.

Generally, this pain appears when the crystals are very large and become stuck in the kidneys or when they leave the kidney and begin to descend towards the ureter or bladder.

This pain is often described as being similar to labor pain, and can also cause difficulty moving the body.

6. Intense kidney colic

Kidney colic can occur in peaks of intense pain that come and go, which can last around 20 to 60 minutes. It generally appears when the stone formed by excess uric acid becomes trapped or blocks some part of the urinary tract, such as the kidneys, ureter or bladder.

7. Nausea and vomiting

Kidney stones formed by excess uric acid can cause nausea and vomiting, which is a very common symptom. It occurs due to stimulation of the splanchnic nerve, which is an innervation shared by the lining capsule of the kidneys and the stomach.

8. Pain or burning when urinating

Pain or burning when urinating can be a sign of a urinary tract infection, which can be caused by the movement of the uric acid stone in the urethra to be eliminated through urine or by blocking the passage of urine.

In addition, there may be a need to urinate frequently, cloudy or foul-smelling urine, for example. See the other common UTI symptoms and complete our online symptom checker to determine your risk for an UTI.

9. Presence of blood in the urine

When uric acid stones in the kidneys move, they can cause damage to the cells lining the urinary tract, which can lead to the appearance of small amounts of blood in the urine. However, this symptom is generally more related to the stone passing through the urethra to be eliminated through urine, or a urinary infection. Read about what else can cause blood in the urine.

10. Fever or chills

Fever or chills may also appear as a sign of a kidney infection caused by the presence of uric acid stones in the kidney or a urinary tract infection. Whenever these symptoms occur, you should seek urgent medical attention. Learn about other symptoms of kidney stones and complete our online symptom checker.

Confirming a diagnosis

The diagnosis of high uric acid is confirmed by a general practitioner, orthopedist or rheumatologist through evaluation of symptoms, health history and lifestyle habits.

The doctor will request diagnosr

tic tests of the blood and the urine, which will include a complete blood count, lipid profile, calcium and phosphate levels in the blood. This will allow the doctor to assess whether there are other health conditions that may be contributing to an increase in uric acid in the blood.

Other tests that the doctor may order are X-rays of the joints, to assess swelling and confirm the diagnosis of gout, or even a kidney ultrasound, to check for the presence of uric acid stones.

Treatment options

The treatment of high uric acid must be oriented by general practitioner, orthopedist or rheumatologist who may recommend the use of anti-inflammatory medicines or corticosteroids to relieve pain or swelling in the joints, or medicines to reduce uric acid levels. in the blood, such as allopurinol or probenecid, for example. Learn about the gout medicine your doctor may prescribe.

In the case of kidney stone formation, the doctor may also prescribe antispasmodics and analgesics, such as dipyrone and scopolamine. However, pain that is severe should be treated in a hospital setting with IV medications.

Furthermore, to lower uric acid levels, it is important to make changes to your diet. A registered dietitian should be consulted, and will likely recommend increasing your intake of foods such as apples, beets, carrots or cucumbers, as well as avoiding alcoholic beverages, red meat, seafood and fish. Read more about the gout diet your dietitian may advise.