Uric acid is a by-product of cell nucleic acid formed by the normal breakdown of cells, explains The Merck Manual Home Edition. It is also produced by the breakdown of purines, which are protein components present in certain foods.
The amount of uric acid in the bloodstream is maintained by a balance between production and excretion, according to The Merck Manual Home Edition. Uric acid is eliminated by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. Medications, diseases and medical conditions that increase uric acid production or decrease excretion can tilt this balance.
Medications like thiazide diuretics, cyclosporine, pyrazinamide, ethambutol and nicotinic acid can all raise uric acid levels, explains The Merck Manual Home Edition. Conditions like certain blood disorders, obesity, psoriasis, enzyme abnormalities and chronic kidney disease also increase uric acid. Anchovies, asparagus, consommé, herring and meat gravy are foods high in purines.
When too much uric acid is present in the blood, it crystallizes and accumulates in the joints, causing gout, according to The Merck Manual Home Edition. A gout attack can occur without warning and causes severe pain in at least one joint. Gout most often affects the big toe, but it can affect the feet, ankles, knees, wrists and elbows.