Kidney stones can develop as the result of many issues including dehydration, an imbalance of uric acid in the system, an untreated urinary tract infection, obesity, gastrointestinal conditions, heredity and even eating too much of certain foods. The four main types of kidney stones are calcium stones, struvite stones, uric acid stones and cystine stones, with the most common being calcium stones. Not all kidney stones can be prevented but there are defensive measures you can take to lower the risk of their development.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
People who have a history of kidney stones should consume plenty of water. Doctors recommend drinking at least 12 eight-ounce glasses of water each day, especially if you live in hot, dry climates or if you exercise regularly. Drinking water helps dilute the urine so minerals or stone-forming salts cannot develop into stones.
LIMIT OXALATE-RICH FOODS IN THE DIET
If you’ve had calcium oxalate stones in the past, it is recommended to lower the amount of oxalate in your diet. Foods that contain oxalate are chocolate, peanuts, beets, spinach, sweet potatoes, tea, soy products, colas and rhubarb.
AVOID TAKING CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS
If you’ve had calcium kidney stones you don’t have to avoid foods that contain calcium, only avoid taking calcium supplements unless under a healthcare provider’s care. Experts at the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, MN state that calcium in the foods you eat does not cause the formation of calcium kidney stones. If you are taking calcium supplements under the advice of a medical professional, it is advised to take them with meals to reduce the risk of developing stones.
BEWARE OF TAKING TOO MUCH VITAMIN D
While it’s important to get enough vitamin D, too much of this good thing can cause the formation of calcium kidney stones. Avoid taking vitamin D supplements unless directed to do so by a healthcare provider. You should be able to get enough vitamin D each day by drinking fortified milk, eating yogurt, eating fortified cereals or by spending 15 minutes in the sun each day.
LIMIT SALT INTAKE AND ANIMAL PROTEIN
A diet high in salt and red meat can cause the uric acid in the system to become imbalanced and prompt uric acid kidney stones to develop. Your body only needs one teaspoon of salt per day including the sodium found in many pre-packaged foods. Limit the amount of meat you eat and instead try getting some of your daily protein from non-animal sources such as beans, soy and nuts.
Drinking one cup each day of either black or green tea may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. However, don’t drink tea if you have experienced oxalate kidney stones in the past.
TRY ORANGE OR LEMON JUICE
While this remedy has yet to be proven, it is thought that drinking orange or lemon juice may help reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. The citric acid in both types of juice may reduce the calcium levels in the urine, therefore reducing the risk of kidney stones.
SEE A DOCTOR IF YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE A UTI
The bacteria from an untreated urinary tract infection can cause struvite stones to form. They form quickly and become very large in a short period of time. Symptoms of a UTI are a burning sensation when urinating, feeling as if you need to urinate but can’t, lower back pain and pressure in the urinary tract. Always see a healthcare provider if you suspect you have a UTI.
WATCH YOUR WEIGHT
Obesity has been linked to increasing the risk of developing kidney stones. Try to maintain a healthy weight in which your waist size is not over one-half the number of inches of your height. Example: if you are 5 feet, 7 inches tall, your height in inches is 67. Your waist should not be more than 33.5 inches in circumference.
Kidney stones can be painful and while smaller stones may be able to pass on their own, larger stones need medical intervention. If you have had kidney stones in the past or if they are hereditary in your family, watching your diet may enable you to prevent developing kidney stones in the future.
If you are in pain, there is no need to prolong your discomfort. Urgent Clinics Medical Care provides urinalysis to check urine for infection and we also offer comprehensive metabolic panel testing to check kidney function. Our convenient locations in the Houston area may treat you with IV hydration therapy, and/or IV non-narcotic pain medication, which gives great relief to our patients. In some cases, we will order a CT scan and refer to a urologist if needed. Visit any of our locations for prompt and effective treatment in Pearland, Champions, The Woodlands and 3 locations in League City: Creekside, Marina Bay and Tuscan Lakes.