Gout Questions Answered: What Is the Proper Blood Test for Gout?

For today’s question, we ask, “what kind of blood test should I get for gout?” or, even, “should I get a blood test if I have or if I suspect I have gout?”

First and foremost, many different scenarios may come to mind when the words “blood test” and “gout” are combined in a question—and we plan to tackle them all in typical Got Gout? fashion (straight to the point and not leaving anything behind).

Before we think of scenarios, let us answer the question in the simplest manner first. The blood test associated with gout is a specific type of blood test that checks the level of uric acid in the blood—particularly in the blood plasma. You may call it the uric acid blood test, or any name you wish so long as it gives you the results you’re looking for—concentration of uric acid in your blood. The test is done like any other blood test—by taking a sample of blood from a vein (usually in the arm) via needle and syringe. More information about the test before we end this article.

Moving on to scenarios, probably the first and most common scenario is when someone suspects he or she may have gout. Quite frankly, a good and experienced physician should be able to tell just by looking at the affected joint and/or by checking your symptoms if what you have is indeed gout. More often than not, a blood test may not even be required. If it is indeed gout, pain and anti-inflammatory medications are usually prescribed, then a follow-up visit to discuss long-term management (gout is a chronic ailment) which might include a blood test usually follows.

Another scenario arises when a patient is already a gout veteran—has either had an episode or multiple episodes of gout in the past. If no uric acid blood test has been administered in the history of the patient, a physician might order one to pinpoint something that might be causing the high uric acid levels. It may be that the patient simply consumes too much foods high in purines, has a hard time getting rid of uric acid—kidney problem—or worse, both.

Also part of the above scenario is when a doctor wants to find out if the course of treatment is working. Obviously, if it’s not working, certain adjustments should be made—a lifestyle change for the patient, perhaps.

A different scenario comes way before a gout attack even happens (should it happen). Gout is hereditary and if you have history, it may be wise, especially if you have come of age, to have your uric acid checked. At this point, all you may need is a simple adjustment in your diet. This can not only prevent you from experiencing excruciating pain, but save up on medical bills as well.

Going back to the blood test itself, the normal uric acid range falls between 3.6 mg/dL and 8.3 mg/dL or milligrams per decilitre. A high concentration of uric acid in the blood is called hyperuricemia and hypouricemia for the opposite. An abnormal concentration is not in itself a medical condition, but is associated with a medical condition such as, you guessed it, gout.

Uric acid can also be detected in the urine. A urine uric acid test also exists. This test comes in conjunction with the blood test to see if the kidneys are efficiently getting rid of uric acid. We will discuss this the urine test in detail in a future post.

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