Uric Acid Urine Test

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on September 11, 2022
4 min read

A uric acid urine test is a test that checks how much uric acid is in your pee.

Your body makes uric acid when it breaks down purines, which are chemicals in your body tissues and in many foods and drinks like liver, anchovies, sardines, dried beans, and beer.

Uric acid usually dissolves in the blood, passes through your kidneys, and leaves your body when you pee. But sometimes, too much of this acid stays in your body. Either your kidneys can’t get rid of enough of it, or your body is making too much.

High uric acid can cause health problems.

Your doctor might think you have gout, a painful type of arthritis. Gout usually happens when extra uric acid forms crystals that get stuck in your joints. Symptoms of gout include:

  • Pain or swelling in your joints, mainly your big toe, ankle, or knee
  • Red, shiny skin around your joints
  • Joints that feel warm to the touch

If you have kidney stones, a uric acid urine test is a way for your doctor to figure out what’s causing them. One type of stone is formed when uric acid builds up in your urine and makes crystals that stick together. If the stone is big enough, it can block the flow of urine and be painful to pass when you pee. It may be linked with a urinary tract infection. Rarely, it could even damage your kidneys. Symptoms of kidney stones include:

Health care professionals also monitor the uric acid levels of people having chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These cancer treatments can create high levels of uric acid in the blood.

Some medications can affect your test results:

Tell your doctor about any medicines you’re taking. You may need to stop before the test, but don’t make any changes until you talk with them.

Ask your doctor about avoiding alcoholic drinks before and during the test. Alcohol slows how fast your body gets rid of uric acid.

Unlike other urine tests, this procedure takes a whole day. Your doctor wants what’s called a 24-hour collection.

Here’s what to do:

  1. When you wake up, pee in the toilet and write down the time.
  2. For the next 24 hours, collect every drop you pee in the container your doctor gives you.
  3. The next morning, try to get up at the same time you did the day before. Collect your first morning pee and write down the time.

Keep the container in the fridge between bathroom visits. After you’re done, take it to the lab. The name of the lab will be included in your doctor’s instructions.

Health care professionals can also check your urine acid levels with a blood test.

Your doctor probably will call within a few days. They’ll talk to you about your results and may order more tests.

Most adults lose between 500 and 600 milligrams of uric acid in their pee every 24 hours. More than 800 milligrams is too much if you’re eating a regular diet.

Other than gout and kidney stones, high uric acid levels happen in people who:

  • Have blood cancers like multiple myeloma or leukemia
  • Are obese
  • Are getting cancer treatments or have cancer that’s spread
  • Have a genetic condition called Lesch-Nyhan syndrome that makes your body produce too much uric acid
  • Have a condition that breaks down muscle fibers (rhabdomyolysis)
  • Have some bone marrow disorders
  • Have a kidney tube disorder in which the body releases substances into your pee (Fanconi syndrome)

Some foods and drinks can raise your uric acid because they’re high in purines:

  • Shellfish
  • Red meat
  • Organ meat, such as liver
  • Beer and liquor

Your doctor may want you to limit or avoid these foods.

They also may prescribe medication that lowers uric acid. This can keep a kidney stone from forming or prevent another gout attack.

Although it’s not nearly as common, it’s also possible for your uric acid level to be too low. This most often happens in people who have:

  • Kidney disease
  • Lead poisoning
  • Long-term alcohol use
  • Kidneys that can’t filter fluids and waste the way they should (chronic glomerulonephritis)