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Preventing Kidney Stones

A kidney stone is a piece of material that forms from a mixture of waste products, including minerals.

Everyday your kidneys dispose of unnecessary substances from your blood and transfer them to your urine in order to remove them from your body. Unfortunately, those substance may mix and form a stone, which can get stuck in the urinary tract, block your urinary flow, and cause immense pain. Kidney stones can be the size of a pearl, a grain of salt, or any size in between. 

Symptoms of a kidney stone include:

  • sharp pains in your back, side, lower abdomen, or groin.
  • pink, red, or brown blood in your urine, also called hematuria.
  • a constant need to urinate.
  • pain while urinating.
  • inability to urinate or can only urinate a small amount.
  • cloudy or bad-smelling urine.

 

Types of Kidney Stones

There are four types of kidney stones: calcium, uric acid, struvite, and cystine.

The most common type is calcium stones. A high amount of calcium and oxalate excretion creates a form of calcium stones called calcium oxalate stones. The other form of calcium stones is called calcium phosphate stones and are formed by the mixture of an excessive amount of calcium and alkaline urine.  

According to the National Institutes of Health, Caucasians are more likely than African Americans to develop a kidney stone, and men are more likely than women. Your risk of kidney stones increases as you age starting at age 40 for men and 50 for women. Develop healthy habits to ensure that you don’t experience the excruciating pain of a kidney stone. 

 

Preventing Kidney Stones

The best way to prevent a kidney stone is to drink enough fluids daily.

Beebe urology specialists recommend you drink at least 2‐3 liters a day. The recommendation may fluctuate, depending on the weather and the amount physical activity to partake in. Although water is the preferred choice, studies have shown that citrus drinks, like lemonade, can also decrease your chances of developing a kidney stone. The citrate located in citrus drinks can help stop crystal from growing into stones.

Dietary changes can also be made to help prevent kidney stones. Becoming a mindful eater and reducing your intake of sodium and animal protein, like fish and eggs, and increasing the amount of calcium you consume. 

High amounts of sodium can cause your kidneys to push more calcium into the urine, resulting in stones forming. Hot dogs, lunch meats, and fast food are a few items that contain high amounts of sodium. 

Animal protein, including fish, eggs, liver, and other animal meats, contain purines. Purines turn into uric acid in the urine, which can contribute to the development of a stone. Uric acid also decrease the amount of protective citrate in urine. 

Consuming more calcium foods, or supplements, can help your digestive system bind to oxalate from food and halts it from entering your blood. Drinking a cup of low‐fat milk, which contains 300 mg of calcium, is a simple measure to take when trying to prevent kidney stones. 

Change your dietary habits and drink plenty of fluids to lower your risk of developing painful kidney stones.

Questions about kidney stones or need to make an appointment with a urology specialist? Beebe Urology physicians Richard Paul, MD, and Delbert Kwan, MD, are here to help. Learn more.