Should you be concerned about high levels of uric acid? It's not uncommon to have a high uric acid level–up to 40 million Americans do. Most people with chronic high uric acid levels (called hyperuricemia) never develop gout, an arthritic condition marked by high uric acid levels and resulting in painful joint inflammation, often in the big toe. Medication to lower uric acid is often prescribed for people with gout.

Hyperuricemia (even without gout) is also associated with other conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and reduced kidney function. However, because hyperuricemia seems unlikely to cause these diseases, drug treatment is not advised unless gout is also present.

Other things you can do to help lower uric acid levels: Reduce your intake of purine-rich foods, including seafood and meat (especially organ meats, such as liver). Reduce or avoid alcohol (especially beer), soda and juice with high fructose content. Reach and maintain a normal body weight. Take about 500 mg of vitamin C each day.

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