According to recent studies, the prevalence of kidney stones is on the rise. In fact, one in ten of us will have a kidney stone in our lifetime. The actual cause of kidney stones varies, however certain risk factors can make developing one more likely. So how can we reduce our chances of developing a kidney stone? It’s easier than you might think!
Kidney stones form when there is a build-up of minerals and salts inside the kidney. Tiny stones can move out of the body in the urine without causing too much pain but larger stones that don’t move can cause severe pain. Stones can often form if the urine becomes very concentrated as this causes minerals to crystalize and “stick” together.
Treatment for kidney stones varies depending on their severity. Although it can be incredibly painful to pass a kidney stone, they usually don’t cause permanent damage. Often treatment involves strong pain medication and plenty of water to flush the kidneys and help you pass the stone. Sometimes medication is given to help pass the stone. In severe cases where the stones are larger and cannot pass naturally, sound wave therapy or even surgery may be used to remove the stones.
Here are 5 tips that can help prevent you from developing painful kidney stones:
- Keep well hydrated. One of the most important ways to reduce your chances of developing a kidney stone is to drink plenty of water. This keeps your urine diluted and helps stop waste products getting too concentrated and forming stones. Drinks such as coffee and fruit juice can count towards your fluid intake, but water is the healthiest option and is best for preventing kidney stones. It is important to make sure you drink more when it’s hot or when you’re exercising, to replenish fluids lost through sweating.
- Reduce oxalates in your diet. A build-up of calcium can cause kidney stones, but calcium is an important part of your diet. Oxalates which are molecules found in foods prevent calcium being absorbed by your body and can accumulate in your kidney to form a stone. Foods like beets, chocolate, spinach, asparagus, rhubarb, tea, and most nuts are rich in oxalate, so should be eaten in moderation.
- Limit animal protein.Eating too much animal protein, such as red meat, eggs, poultry and seafood raises the level of uric acid (a waste by-product) and can lead to kidney stones. A high-protein diet also reduces levels of citrate, a chemical in urine that can help prevent stones from forming.
- Reduce Sodium. A high sodium diet can cause the kidneys to have reduced function and remove less water and can trigger kidney stones as it increases the level of calcium in your urine.
- Reduce processed foods. Phosphorus, a mineral which can bind with calcium and cause kidney stones, is a common additive and preservative found in fast food, Cola, frozen food and luncheon meats. Processed food also usually has a high sodium content. Avoid processed foods to keep your kidneys healthy.
If you are in pain and suspect you may have a kidney stone, consult with one of our experienced nephrologists who will assess your condition and prescribe a care plan aimed at prevention and management. To schedule an appointment at one of our conveniently located offices in the Boston area, call Commonwealth Nephrology Associates at (617) 739-2100 or request an appointment online.