kidney stones

Tips to  Avoid Kidney Stones

Having personally experienced kidney stones, a few years ago,  I can tell you that  passing one is probably the most painful experience possible.  You DO want to avoid having a kidney stone!

What is it?

A kidney stone is a hard mass made of crystals that separate from urine and build up inside the kidney.  If the crystals remain tiny, then they will travel through the urinary tract and pass out of the body in the urine without being noticed. Kidney stones may contain various chemicals, but most are made of calcium.  Calcium occurs naturally throughout the body, particularly in bones and muscles. When the crystals build up and build a stone which cannot pass through the ureter or tube from the kidney, then the person experiences pain that lasts hours usually.

Unfortunately, kidney stones have become more common in the last 30 years.  Men are more likely to develop kidney stones than women. People over 40 are more likely to develop kidney stones. Most kidney stones will pass out of the body without medical intervention. But physicians have various methods to remove stones that will not pass, such as using shock waves to break up a stone.

Drink Water

The best tip to help you avoid the formation of a kidney stone is to drink plenty of water.  If you tend to form stones, you need to be mindful of your water intake, and drink enough to produce at least two quarts of urine in  a 24-hour period.   The purpose of drinking water is to dilute the concentration of cysteine or calcium in your urine. Drinking water is particularly important in the summer. Adequate hydration will prevent fatigue and heat stroke as well.

Limit Certain Foods

There are certain foods that contribute to the formation of kidney stones. A patient who is prone to develop stones may be advised to limit certain foods.   Tea, cola, and coffee are on this list.  Nuts, chocolate, and strawberries are the tastiest foods on the list to limit. Spinach, rhubarb, wheat bran, and beets are also on the list.  These are the foods that might cause one to form calcium oxalate kidney stones. Depending on the chemical make-up of your kidney stone, you may be advised to limit antacids and Vitamin D which have calcium in them.

Treatment

Doctors  can determine the chemical type of the stone and the cause of the stone by collecting urine and doing a blood test. Doctors will ask about your  diet and medical history. You may have a CT scan at the emergency room and you will probably be prescribed pain medication to take  when you are passing the stone. Removing a stone may require surgery to remove stone fragments or to remove a large stone that is in a location that does not allow other methods of removal.  Some patients may need to take medication regularly to prevent stones from forming.

 

Avoid your first kidney stone by paying attention to your intake of water. Do this throughout the year, but particularly during hot weather.

Drink up! That glass of water is very good for you!

 

You can read more about kidney stones at the Mayo Clinic.

 

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