Our body contains chemical compounds called purines that are present in the DNA and RNA cells. These occur naturally in the body and are also created by some foods. As these purines are broken down by the body, uric acid is created as a waste product. Our kidneys filter out uric acid from the blood to remove it via urine.
Since it is a waste product, it is important for the body to excrete uric acid. Sometimes, however, not all of the uric acid is passed through the urine. This leads to the gradual accumulation of uric acid, which can further cause health problems. When the quantity of uric acid in the blood is high, the condition is called hyperuricemia. This condition can cause the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints and tissues.
When the uric acid is accumulated in the tissues, it causes gout; and when the uric acid is accumulated in the joints, it can develop into some form of arthritis, and it’s very painful. The very same crystals can get accumulated in kidneys to form kidney stones as well.
Moreover, if the uric acid increase in the body is left untreated, it can cause permanent joint, bone, or tissue damage, heart disease and kidney disease. The increase in uric acid in elders is especially harmful because they do not have a strong immunity system to counter it and are susceptible to its effects.
Identifying the Symptoms
However, the increase in uric acid in blood is not without symptoms. You can recognise the symptoms of uric acid increase in the body of the elderly and get the right treatment. These symptoms include chills, fever, and fatigue if the elderly have any form of cancer. Uric acid crystals also deposit in the joints and develop into gout. Formation of kidney stone is often due to it.
Keeping Uric Acid in Check
Besides knowing why uric acid increases in the body, it is also important to know how to lower it and keep it balanced. There are various ways to lower and control uric acid in senior citizens. These include:
1. Consuming Less, High and Moderate Purine-Rich Food
There are foods that contain purine in low, moderate and high quantity. To prevent the increase of uric acid, one should ideally avoid food that has a high purine quantity. This includes fish, beer, dairy products like paneer, and sugary food and beverages. Elders at home should limit the intake of these high-purine foods. To further prevent the uric acid increase in the body, intake of food with moderate purine content should be limited too. These include chicken, and most forms of seafood like shrimp, crab, and lobster.
2. Consume More Food With Low Purine Content
While you are limiting the intake of high and moderate purine content food for the elderly, you should switch to food that has low purine content. This includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, dry nuts, fruits, vegetables, coffee, bread, wholegrains and rice.
Change in the dietary lifestyle will not entirely prevent the uric acid increase in the body. However, it will prevent flare-ups. Since the purine content will stay low and well-managed, the likelihood of gout will greatly decrease.
3. Be Mindful of the Medication
There are certain medications that also raise the purine level in the body. Several types of diuretic drugs are the reason why uric acid increases in the body. Diuretics medicines are the ones that increase the amount of urination one does. Even the daily use of aspirin over a period of time can increase the uric acid in the body. However, this does not mean you have to stop the elderly’s medication. Consult a medical professional about it. If you have a home health care service for the elderly, ask them whether they should be taking any medication that can raise their uric acid in the blood. At the end of the day, medicines are for health purposes. You don’t have to shun their consumption, but only be mindful of the frequency, quantity etc, to keep the elderly healthy.
4. Healthy Body Weight Goes a Long Way
Maintaining a healthy body weight will not only keep the purine level low; it also ensures overall good health. With age, it becomes even more important to maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity paves the way for many diseases and disorders. So, it should be a goal for the elderly to maintain healthy body weight. Obesity and being overweight greatly increases the risk of gout as well. However, you should be careful that the elderly do not lose weight rapidly. It should be a natural process. Rapid weight loss is also one of the reasons why uric acid increases in the body.
5. Drink Coffee
Coffee is also said to decrease the likelihood of gout. People who are suffering from gout are also at risk of cardiovascular disease. It is often recommended by doctors to increase the caffeine intake to maintain health. However, excess coffee consumption also increases the risk of kidney disorders. This is why it should be taken after a consultation with a doctor, especially if the elderly have low caffeine tolerance. To start with, 1-2 cups of coffee a day would be good.
6. Avoid Sugary Drinks and Alcohol
Sugary drinks such as packed juices and cold drinks can increase uric acid in the body. As mentioned in the first point, sugary beverages and alcohol, both are high on purine and should be avoided. Since these contain an excess amount of calories, they are also responsible for weight gain and may cause metabolic issues.
Ensuring that uric acid in the blood of the elderly stays normal can be a task, but it’s a task you have to take on. At Emoha, we have a range of home health care services along with engagement activities to provide the elders with a sense of being in a community. For us, it is always #EldersFirst