What is it?
It is a test that can be done on either a urine or blood sample. It measures the levels of uric acid, which is produced by the breakdown of purines (chemicals that come from DNA). Most uric acid is excreted through urine but, if it is produced in large amounts or if not enough is excreted, it starts to accumulate in the body, causing a condition known as Gout, which is one of the most common forms of arthritis that is characterized by inflammation in the joints (especially of the big toes).
Why is it done?
To detect high levels of uric acid (a condition known as hyperuricemia), as well as to monitor uric acid levels in patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
Who should have it done?
Every man or women who experiences joint pain or other symptoms that might make your physician suspect the presence of gout.
In adults, once per year or as recommended by your physician.
What else should you keep in mind?
Thiazides (diuretic drugs), estrogens, steroids and aspirin may alter the test’s results and therefore, if taking them, make sure to mention it to your physician. Patients with gout must avoid foods with a high purine content, such as red meat, sardines and anchovies; alcohol should also be avoided. Finally, fasting, stress and strenuous exercise also increase uric acid levels.
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