Kidney stones are hard, small masses, which can develop inside the kidneys. Risk factors include family history, dehydration, obesity, taking certain types of medications and eating a diet high in protein and salt. Stones can become very painful as they travel from the kidney and move into the ureter. In addition to pain, other symptoms include nausea, constant urge to urinate, red urine and fever. There are several things an individual can do to prevent kidney stones from developing.
There are a few different types of kidney stones including calcium, struvite and uric acid stones. If you have a history of stones, knowing which type you have developed can help you make the needed dietary changes to prevent future occurrences. For instance, if you are prone to uric acid stones, you may be instructed by your doctor to reduce protein intake.
One of the biggest risk factors for developing kidney stones is not drinking enough fluids. Drinking plenty of water helps dilute the urine, which helps if there is a buildup of uric acid or calcium. It also helps flush the excess salt from the urine and prevent stone formation. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who are prone to kidney stones should try to drink about two and half liters of water every day. More water may need to be consumed when exercising or spending time outside in hot weather.
Eating foods that are rich in oxalates may cause an increased risk in the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones, according to the National Kidney Foundation. If you have a history of this type of kidney stone, foods high in oxalates, such as colas, chocolate, tea, peanuts and beets, should be limited for preventing kidney stones.
It is important to understand eating foods high in calcium does not appear to be a risk factor for stone formation. According to the Mayo Clinic, calcium-rich foods should still be consumed unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, but taking calcium supplements may cause an increased risk of stone formation.
Eating certain fiber rich foods, such as those containing phytates may help with preventing kidney stones. Phytate can help prevent calcium from crystallizing and prevent stones from forming. Foods such as rice bran, legumes and tree nuts are rich in phytates.
According to the New York Times Health Guide, there appears to be a link between stress levels and the formation of kidney stones. Learning stress reduction techniques may not only help reduce the chances of stone formation, but can improve overall health. Participating in regular exercise, learning yoga and meditation are all examples of ways to reduce stress.
Diets, which are high in protein, may cause excess uric acid to be excreted in the urine. When the urine becomes too acidic, a person may have an increased risk of kidney stones. The excess uric acid can crystallize, which causes the stone to form. Although protein is necessary in the diet, excess amounts should be avoided in people who are prone to uric acid kidney stones.
A diet high in salt results in more calcium being excreted in the urine, which can also cause kidney stones. People who are prone to calcium kidney stones should reduce salt intake to about 2400 mg, according to the National Institutes of Health. Foods which are generally high in salt and should be reduced include canned soup, luncheon meat and fast food.
Pure lemon juice may not be your first choice when it comes to beverages, but drinking a half a cup a day may help prevent certain types of kidney stones. Lemon juice raises the amount of citrate in the urine, which decreases the chances of calcium stones from developing.
In some cases, dietary changes may not be enough to stop kidney stones from forming, when this occurs, medication may be recommended. Certain medication may be prescribed which regulate the acidity of urine and help reduce stones from forming. Depending on which type of kidney stone you have a history of; medication may include antibiotics, a thiazide diuretic and medication to make the urine more alkaline.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, the incidence of kidney stones has been increasing in the last several decades and continues to rise. Kidney stones will affect about one in ten people during their lifetime. Having a kidney stone in the past is a risk factor for developing a stone in the future. Taking a proactive approach and implementing the preventive techniques listed above may help reduce the chances of kidney stones developing in the future.