Uric acid crystals in urine

The breakdown of purine by the body during metabolism results in the release of a byproduct called uric acid. Purine naturally occurs in the body as well as some foods like anchovies, oatmeal, dried beans, sea fish, and meat, etc. It gets eliminated during urination.

The uric acid released as a metabolic byproduct travels through the bloodstream, goes to the kidneys, gets filtered, and then discharged along with urine. Occasionally, the kidneys may malfunction and remove just a percentage of the uric acid present in the body, or the body may commence the production of elevated levels of uric acid, thereby causing hyperuricemia, a condition characterized by excess amounts of uric acid in the blood. It may be noted that uric acid levels falling between 3.6 mg/dL and 8.3 mg/dL of blood in the body is considered as normal.

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Excess uric acid levels in the body eventually buildup into uric acid crystals, which then get eliminated from the body via urine. Thus, occurrence of uric acid crystals in urine may be an indication of an underlying disorder.

Symptoms occurring along with uric acid crystals in urine

The presence of uric acid crystals in urine as well as the range of symptoms that accompany the abnormal condition is typically dependent on the total amount of uric acid present in the body.

Excessive uric acid content in the body, by itself, does not cause any harm to the health of the patient. Some affected individuals may however suffer from complications of elevated levels of uric acid in the body, such as gout, kidney stones, and chronic kidney failure, etc. The signs and symptoms accompanying the discharge of uric acid crystals in urine is usually the result of such underlying complications.

1. Gout

Elevated quantities of uric acid in the body/blood can lead to the development of sharp, pin-like, hard crystals inside varied joints as well as in the nearby tissues. In addition to uric acid crystals in urine, affected people may suffer from the below listed symptoms:

  • Patients may suffer from extreme, throbbing pain in the affected joints.
  • Episodes of gout pain are most prominent during the night. Even the mildest of touches, like that of a bed sheet, can cause the pain to intensify and worsen.
  • The bouts of gout pain may linger for several days and sometimes even many weeks.
  • Varied joints such as the ankle, hands, foot, wrists, knees, and especially the big toe, may elicit redness, inflammation, swelling, and tenderness.

2. Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are solid particles that develop in the organ due to buildup of waste matter. Elevated uric acid content in the blood can thus trigger the creation of uric acid crystals inside this organ. Patients may not experience adverse symptoms till the time one of the crystals/stones migrates to the bladder from the kidneys via the ureters. Subsequently, affected people may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Extreme pain may begin all of a sudden and then cease as rapidly. Most patients experience such pain on the back or side regions of the abdomen.
  • Pain may occur during urination; it may be accompanied by burning sensations.
  • Pain may last for some minutes or even a few hours, with regular intervals of total relief from such pain.
  • Urine may attain a pinkish, brownish, or reddish hue. It may elicit a foul smell and appear foamy or cloudy.
  • Patients may also experience pain in the groin region as well as in the testicles.
  • Patients suffering from a concurrent case of infection(UTI, etc.) may also suffer from nausea, vomiting, and fever.

3. Kidney Failure

Chronic kidney failure is a condition characterized by diminished ability or failure of the kidneys to efficiently filter waste matter occurring in the blood. Associated symptoms include:

  • In addition to presence of uric acid crystals in urine, patients may experience dry skin and itchiness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Fluid retention which may then cause swollen limbs
  • Loss of appetite
  • General feeling of being unwell, or malaise
  • Nausea
  • Decreased urine output
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Buildup of fluid in the lungs which then causes respiratory problems
  • Blood in urine
  • High blood pressure
  • Cognitive deficiencies
  • Sleep disorders

Causes

Uric acid crystals are commonly caused due to the following:

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  • Excessive consumption of purine-rich foods can considerably increase the uric acid content in the blood and body, which then passes out from the body as uric acid crystals in urine.
  • Various conditions such as obesity, gout, cardiovascular diseases, hypothyroidism, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, some forms of cancer, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, psoriasis, lead poisoning, hereditary diseases, and urolithiasis may be characterized by buildup of uric acid in the body, thereby resulting in uric acid crystals in urine.
  • Reduced kidney function or underlying kidney disorders may prevent the organ from efficiently breaking down uric acid content in the blood. Thus, the rate of uric acid breakdown becomes lower than the rate of its production, subsequently leading to uric acid crystals in urine.
  • Chemotherapy treatment, use of diuretics, consumption of vitamin C supplements or niacin, and lifestyle abnormalities like starvation or alcoholism are some other factors that can trigger a case of uric acid crystals in urine.

Treatment of uric acid crystals in urine

Doctors treat a case of uric acid crystals in urine and related health complications with diet changes and medications.

  • Pain killers can help alleviate pain, while drugs like allopurinol, febuxostat, sulfinpyrazone, and probenecid decrease the uric acid content in blood.

Patients are advised to include the below listed foods in the diet:

  • Pasta, peanut butter, vinegar, corn, eggs, rice, cherries, whole wheat breads,tart, cheese, gelatin, and other low protein/purine foods.
  • Celery, parsley, cabbage, tofu, berries, and other foods with complex proteins.
  • Yam, cereals, yogurt, dried peaches, bananas, and other potassium-abundant foods.
  • Low-fat milk products, salmon, flax seeds, red cabbage, soy products,fibrous foods, varied nuts, olive oil, pineapples, red bell peppers, lemon juice, and other foods with vitamin C and bromelain.

Patients are advised to avoid foods like:

  • Processed meat, anchovies, tuna,shrimp, yeast, beer, pork, mincemeat, sardines, scallops, lamb, mussels, sweetbread, organ meats like liver, kidney, and other purine-rich foods.
  • Lobster, oatmeal, asparagus, goose, legumes, lentils, mushroom, soda, cauliflower, bacon, chicken, peas, dried beans, turkey, spinach, and other foods with moderate purine content.

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