Gout and the kidneys

Gout Symptoms – The effects of gout on the kidney

While gout symptoms are usually associated with the joints, in particular the joint of the big toe, very serious problems can arise when damage is done to the kidneys. Here we discuss the potential effect of high uric acid concentration, and the particular problems associated with the kidneys.

There are many contributing factors in the formation of crystals in the joints. Crystallisation occurs when the solution in which a salt is suspended becomes too concentrated to allow any more to dissolve. Acidity (low pH) of the fluid in which the urate is dissolved is also a factor – low pH makes it easier for these acids to crystallise

Both of these conditions are prevalent in the kidneys!

The main function of the kidneys is to eliminate waste from the body, and to concentrate that waste before it leaves the body. Hence in someone with elevated uric acid concentration, this factor is even higher in the kidneys.

Also one of the functions of the kidneys is to excrete hydrogen ions from the body. In doing this the fluid in the kidneys becomes more acidic.
Two of the most important factors required to create crystals are found in the one place!
Repeated attacks of gout can create accumulations of these crystals called tophi. These can also form in the kidneys. Left untreated these can cause a vicious circle of reactions… the tophi can lead to kidney disease which in turn can cause hypertension and vascular disease, which place more pressure on the kidneys… and so on!

Animal and organ meat are known to contain high levels of purine which gout sufferers must avoid.
by grendelkhan under CC BY-SA
Animal and organ meat are known to contain high levels of purine which gout sufferers must avoid.

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In days gone by there was no medication available to treat high uric acid levels in the body, and patients whose kidneys were affected could move swiftly through to kidney failure and all of the problems associated with that!

These days of course we have medication to treat hyperuricaemia, but these can have some pretty serious side effects, including dermatitis, hypersensitivity, diarrhoaea, nausea, vomiting and hair loss!

There are also known natural ways to prevent this disease. Many foods are high in gout-causing purines, while other foods help the body create an environment which removes excess uric acid from the body.

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