Gout & Kidney Health

If you have gout, your kidneys are at risk.

Those who have gout are more likely to get kidney disease – and likewise, those who have kidney disease are more likely to suffer from gout and elevated uric acid levels.KIDNEY DIAGRAM

Uric acid is a normal waste product that can be found in your blood stream – but having more uric acid than the kidneys can get rid of can lead to a condition called hyperuricemia (high uric acid in the blood). Elevated levels of uric acid can lead to painful gout flares and can also cause a decrease in kidney function.

Kidney stones form when uric acid crystals deposit in the kidneys. They are very painful and – if left untreated – can block the urinary tract and result in infection. Research has shown that one in five people with gout will develop kidney stones.

Over time, kidney stones and damage can lead to chronic kidney disease, which includes conditions that damage the kidneys. For those who have kidney disease, it is more difficult for their kidneys to get rid of uric acid. Untreated kidney disease can ultimately lead to kidney failure, or loss of kidney function.

Control Gout and Protect Your Kidneys

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Maintaining a healthy serum uric acid level of 6.0 mg/dL or below is important to reduce risk for gout and kidney disease. Ask your doctor for a routine serum uric acid blood test to see if you have elevated uric acid. The doctor can also run tests to measure your kidney function.

If your uric acid levels are high, your doctor may prescribe medications to keep uric acid levels low and reduce your risk for future gout flares. It is important to take these medications as prescribed – and not to stop them without talking with the doctor. It is also important to tell your doctor about all other medications and supplements you are taking, as some may be raising your uric acid levels.

Other steps – such as drinking plenty of water to flush the kidneys and help to remove uric acid from the bloodstream; exercising and maintaining a healthy body weight; and avoiding trigger foods – are also important for reducing risk.

To learn more about gout and kidney health, download this brochure. Additional information about kidney health is available through the National Kidney Foundation at Kidney.org/atoz.