Uric acid is a chemical created by the breakdown of purines, organic compounds that are found in wine, beer, dried beans, anchovies, liver and mackerel. Uric acid is normally dissolved in the blood and excreted from the body during urination. Your physician will ascertain a uric acid level to diagnose or monitor gout, kidney disease and kidney stones caused by excess uric acid. You may also be tested to monitor the uric acid level in your blood during or after certain types of chemotherapy.
A uric acid level is obtained via a blood or urine sample. The blood sample is obtained by a health-care professional from a vein in your hand or arm. Unless otherwise instructed by your physician, do not eat or drink for at least four hours before a uric acid blood test. To test the level of uric acid in your urine, a 24-hour urine sample is needed in which you collect all the urine you produce in a 24-hour period. The blood or urine sample is then sent to a laboratory for processing.
According to MedlinePlus, normal blood levels of uric acid range between 3 to 7mg per decilitre and normal urine levels of uric acid are between 250 to 750mg per 24 hours. Your physician will determine if your level is abnormal, as normal uric acid levels vary to some extent from laboratory to laboratory.
Certain medications can increase or decrease uric acid levels in your body. Medications that may increase these levels include ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), alcohol, caffeine, aspirin, Cisplatin, diuretics, diazoxide, epinephrine, I-dopa, ethambutol, methyldopa, niacin, theophylline and phenothiazines.
Medications that may decrease the uric acid level in your body include azathioprine, allopurinol, clofibrate, corticosteroids, glucose, oestrogen, mannitol, guaifenesin, probenecid and warfarin. Your physician will determine if you need to hold off taking any medications before you have a uric acid test performed.
Elevated uric acid levels in the blood, also called hyperuricemia, may indicate alcoholism, acidosis, gout, diabetes, lead poisoning, hypoparathyroidism (a low level of parathyroid hormone in the body), kidney stones, leukaemia, renal failure, polycythemia vera (a rare bone-marrow disorder), toxaemia of pregnancy, renal failure, excessive exercise, chemotherapy-related side effects and consumption of a purine-rich diet.
Elevated uric acid levels in the urine may indicate spreading cancer, consumption of a purine-rich diet, a bone-marrow or white blood-cell disorder, gout, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, rhabdomyolysis (a breakdown of muscle tissues normally caused by injury) and Fanconi syndrome, which is a disorder of the kidney tubes.
A lower than normal level of urine acid in the blood may signify Fanconi syndrome, Wilson's disease, consumption of a low-purine diet or SIADH, a condition that results in a lower-than-normal amount of sodium in the body.
A lower-than-normal level of uric acid in the urine may also signify alcoholism, lead poisoning or chronic glomerulonephritis, a type of kidney disease.