A decrease in the urine volume or more stone-forming agents in the urine can lead to kidney stones. This article discusses the ways to prevent the formation of kidney stones.
A kidney stone is a common condition that affects individuals of all age groups. The majority may experience it because of their lifestyle. However, some people are prone to kidney stones. It is a recurring problem, with approximately 50 % of individuals experiencing a second episode.
Certain chemicals in the urine, when getting concentrated enough, can form crystals. These crystals can grow into larger masses (stones) and make their way through the urinary tract. If they get stuck somewhere in the urinary tract, it can block the flow of urine and cause pain. Kidney stones have many causes where some are related to kidney infections, having too many minerals in the system, and genetics.
Genes are involved because 40 percent of people who get kidney stones have relatives who have them.
Colas: These beverages are rich in fructose and phosphates, which can cause kidney stones.
Oxalates: Oxalates are organic compounds found in several foods, like healthy spinach and sweet potatoes. It can bind easily to certain minerals, like calcium, which then form kidney stones.
Salt: Sodium that you intake from salt can increase the calcium in your pee. This can increase the risk of kidney stones. It is good to eat calcium-rich foods like kale and salmon unless you overeat salt. Too little calcium in the diet may also lead to kidney stones in certain people.
Vitamin C Supplements: Research has found that high doses of vitamin C supplements taken regularly can increase the chances of developing kidney stones. However, it is good to take vitamin C through food.
Animal Protein: Taking too much animal protein in steaks, chicken, eggs, and seafood can form calcium and uric acid in the body and cause kidney stones.
Medications: Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs like antacids, certain antibiotics, diuretics, decongestants, steroids, medicines for cancer, HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus), and epilepsy can contribute to kidney stones.
Previous Kidney Stones: If a person has a prior history of kidney stones at least once in their lifetime, they are likely to get them again unless they take steps.
The risk factors for kidney stones include:
Obesity: People who are overweight are more likely to get kidney stones. People with diabetes are also more prone to kidney stones.
Gout: This painful condition can happen when uric acid builds up in the blood. That makes the crystals form in the joints or kidneys.
Intestinal Surgery: People who have had specific gastric bypass surgery or other intestinal surgery are at higher risk of getting kidney stones.
Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism can increase the level of calcium in the blood and trigger kidney stones.
Certain Kidney Diseases: One example is polycystic kidney disease, in which clusters of cysts grow in your kidneys. Another is the medullary sponge kidney, a congenital disability that causes cysts to form in the organ’s tubes.
The kidney stones, when they are small, can pass on their own before causing any symptoms, but when the stones become larger can block the urine flow and cause painful symptoms like:
Pus in urine.
Blood in the urine.
Pain worsens during movement.
Pain in the abdomen or lower back.
Feeling of urgency.
Difficulty in urination.
Frequent, painful, and burning urination.
Nausea, vomiting, chills, and fever can be seen in case of infection.
Avoid Dehydration - Drink adequate water according to the climate and lifestyle. Fluid intake should be increased to achieve at least 2.5 liters of urine output daily. Staying hydrated is a sure way to prevent a kidney stone. When you drink more water, you produce a healthy flow of urine. Dehydration can cause low urine, which means it is more concentrated. So, it is advisable to drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Lemonade and orange juice, which contains citrate, are good options because they can prevent kidney stones.
Restrict Salt Intake - Avoiding salty food in the diet can increase the chances of preventing calcium-oxalate kidney stones. Avoid foods like chips and crackers, canned soups, condiments, and lunch meats and begin to buy products with less sodium and use less salt to flavor food. Avoid or cut back on foods with high amounts of ingredients like sodium chloride, sodium nitrate, and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Reduce the Intake of Animal Proteins - Foods high in animal protein can increase the chances of forming two types of stones called uric acid and calcium oxalate. So be careful while overeating foods like beef, chicken, fish, pork, poultry, etc.
Increase Intake of Fruits and Vegetables - Fruits and vegetables, in general, are good for health and for preventing kidney stones.
Avoid Vitamin C Supplements - High doses of Vitamin C taken daily can cause calcium oxalate kidney stones, so be careful when taking this supplement. You can still eat food with Vitamin C in it.
Reduce Intake of Oxalate-Rich Foods - Kidney stones are made up of Oxalate. Eating fewer foods that contain Oxalates can help the body to avoid making these stones.
Nuts, including almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, etc.
Oat and oat bran.
Soy products, like soy burgers, soy milk, and soy cheese.
Red kidney beans, fava beans, and navy beans.
Beets and tomatoes.
These are the general lifestyle measures to reduce the occurrence of kidney stones. Remember, once the kidney stone is formed, it is impossible to dissolve it with medications. So, if you have large, symptomatic kidney stones, consult your doctor and get them removed. Once the stone is removed, you can ask your doctor to get a chemical analysis of the stone. Sometimes you may get some unusual findings in the chemical analysis report. Accordingly, your doctor will ask you to modify your dietary habits and start the medication to prevent future recurrence.
The stones which are very small and are detected accidentally during an investigation can be ignored. Stonesless than 5 mm, which is not obstructing the kidney, can be left without treatment. Most of the time, they come out without any treatment. But sometimes, even a 2 mm stone can produce a lot of pain and obstruct your kidney. So, you will require undergoing treatment for that.
Last reviewed at:
06 Oct 2022 - 5 min read
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