Hyperuricemia is the presence of an excess of uric acid in the body’s blood products. Several illnesses, such as hyperthyroidism or an excessive level of thyroid hormones in the body can cause hyperuricemia. It may also be caused by inflammation of the kidneys, called nephritis. Those with multiple sclerosis may be prone to hyperuricemia, and as well, people with bone marrow cancer may be at risk.
People who are fed intravenously may also be at risk for high uric acid content. Certain medications like allopurinol, which is used to treat gout, may also cause hyperuricemia, as well as excessive consumption of alcohol or alcoholism. High levels of fructose, sugars from fruit and fruit juices, can also result in the condition.
Hyperuricemia can also be the causal factor for several conditions. High concentrates of uric acid can lead to kidney or bladder stones, which then either must be painfully passed or surgically removed. High uric acid may also be a causal factor for gout, which is a painful arthritis of the joints.
Humans do not have the enzyme that breaks down uric acid, and normally, most people exhibit a normal range or the substance. Normal is defined as no more than 6 milligrams per deciliter of blood products in women, and no more than 7 milligrams per deciliter of blood in men. Vegetarians often have a great deal less uric acid, because they do not consume meat, which is quite high in uric acid. If one is borderline in their measurements, adjusting to a vegetarian diet may resolve the problem so that it does not progress to hyperuricemia.
Diagnosis is made by evaluating both urine and blood samples. The presence of kidney or bladder stones, or presence of gout, or any of the illnesses or predispositions for hyperuricemia above may indicate regular testing. Where hyperuricemia is persistent, treatment focuses on reducing the amount of uric acid in the body.
Several medications, called uricosurics, can break down uric acid. These include probenecid, and sulfinpyrazone. Most uricosurics, however, can have adverse side effects and can be contraindicated in the elderly, as they may be toxic. Occasionally those taking these medications can develop a hypersensitivity to them, which can quickly lead to renal failure in worst-case scenarios.
Treatment of this condition remains problematic because of significant side effects of uricosurics. Current research involves developing medications with fewer side effects. There is little research being done to eradicate hyperuricemia, though research on some of its causal conditions may eventually reduce the incidence.