What Is a Uric Acid Test?
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Uric Acid Test: An Overview

Published on Jan 11, 2023 and last reviewed on May 11, 2023   -  5 min read


Uric acid is a waste product formed when the body breaks down chemicals called purines. Read this article to know more about it.

What Is Uric Acid?

Uric acid is a chemical formed when the body breaks down purines. Purines are substances normally produced in the body and found in some foods and drinks. Foods containing high content of purines include liver, mackerel, dried beans and peas, and beer. Most uric acid dissolves in the blood and goes to the kidneys. From there, it then passes out in the urine. One can get sick if the body produces too much uric acid or does not remove enough of it, resulting in gout (a condition characterized by the formation of crystals in the joint). In addition, high uric acid levels can cause other disorders, including kidney stones and kidney failure.

What Is a Uric Acid Test?

The uric acid test, also called a serum uric acid test, serum urate, or UA helps check the uric acid levels in the blood. A uric acid test is not performed as a routine blood test. But, if there is a health problem that is caused by high uric acid levels, it can be helpful to measure it. High uric acid levels can cause gout, for which one may need to determine how much uric acid is in the blood.

What Is Uric Acid Test Used For?

A uric acid test is usually used to diagnose the following conditions:

  • Gout: This is a type of arthritis where crystals from the uric acid form in the joints and cause intense pain. It usually affects the big toe, but other parts, such as ankles, feet, hands, knees, and wrists, may also be involved. It can also cause swelling, redness, discomfort in those joints, and limited movements.

  • Kidney Stones: These are little, hard deposits of minerals and acid salts formed in the kidneys when there is too much uric acid. They may cause sharp pain in the abdomen, side, or groin, back pain, blood in the urine, frequent urge to urinate, pain when urinating, cloudy or bad-smelling urine, nausea, and vomiting.

  • High Uric Acid Level During Chemotherapy or Radiation Therapy: These cancer treatments kill many cells in the body, increasing the uric acid level. A uric acid test can help check that level does not get too high.

How To Prepare for the Uric Acid Test?

The following things should be kept in mind before undergoing the test:

  • Avoid drinking or eating anything a few hours before the test. Because many medications can interfere with blood test results, the health care provider often asks if a person must stop taking any medicines before having this test.

  • Tell the doctor about medicines, herbs, and supplements, including over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs. Any of these can affect the results.

  • Only stop or change the medicines after asking the health care provider before stopping or changing the medicines.

How Is the Uric Acid Test Performed?

A uric acid test can be performed as a blood test or a urine test.

  1. Blood Test:

  • A healthcare professional draws a blood sample from a vein in the arm using a small needle during a blood test.

  • The blood sample is collected into a clean test tube or vial. This usually takes less than five minutes.

  1. Uric Acid Urine Test:

  • All urine passed in 24 hours is collected for a uric acid urine test called a 24-hour urine sample test. The health care provider or a laboratory professional provides a container to collect the urine and instructions on collecting and storing the samples. This test generally includes the following steps:

    • Void urine in the morning and flush it away. Record the time.

    • For the next 24 hours, collect all the urine passed in the container provided.

    • Store the urine container.

    • Return the sample container to the laboratory professional as instructed.

What Are the Risks of Uric Acid Test?

There is a slight chance of problems, such as:

  • Bleeding or bruising.

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.

  • Infection.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

The uric acid test measures the uric acid in milligrams (mg) and the blood in deciliters (dL).

Normal Results:

Normal values of uric acid range between 3.5 to 7.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). These ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to the healthcare provider about the meaning of the specific test results.

High Uric Acid Levels:

Generally, the uric acid level is high when:

  • For women, it is over 6 mg/dL.

  • For men, it is over 7 mg/dL.

If the blood test results show high uric acid levels, it can be a sign of many conditions, including:

  • Kidney disease.

  • Pre-eclampsia is a potentially dangerous condition that can cause high blood pressure in pregnant women.

  • Intake of too many purine-rich foods, such as dried beans or certain fish such as anchovies, mackerel, and sardines.

  • Alcoholism.

  • Side effects from cancer treatment.

  • Leukemia.

  • Multiple myeloma.

If the urine test results have high uric levels, it may indicate the following conditions:

  • Gout.

  • A diet includes many purine-rich foods, including dried beans or certain fish such as anchovies, mackerel, and sardines.

  • Leukemia.

  • Multiple myeloma.

  • Side effects from cancer treatment.

  • Obesity.

Some individuals with high uric acid levels may not have gout or other kidney disorders. Therefore, they may not need treatment if they do not have disease symptoms. But make sure to talk to a health care provider if concerned about the raised uric acid levels or if you are experiencing any new symptoms.

Low Uric Acid Levels:

Low uric acid levels in the blood are uncommon and do not usually cause concern.

  • Low uric acid levels in urine can signify kidney disease, lead poisoning, or heavy alcohol use.

What Other Tests May Be Needed?

The doctor may order other tests simultaneously to track down what is causing the symptoms and help understand the test results and the next steps.

  • Other gout tests include one where they take fluid from the joint with symptoms.

  • Urinalysis - A urine test that checks for more signs of kidney stones, including blood, white blood cells, and crystals in the urine.


Uric acid is one of the waste products produced when the body breaks down chemicals called purines. A uric acid test helps measure the amount of uric acid in the blood or urine. This test is commonly used to help diagnose gout, find the cause of frequent kidney stones, and monitor the uric acid level of people undergoing certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. The values of uric acid ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Discuss with a healthcare provider the meaning of the specific test result.

Last reviewed at:
11 May 2023  -  5 min read




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