Anyone who has experienced a kidney stone can tell you passing one is painful. 12% of Americans are affected by kidney stones in their lifetime and people that have had kidney stones once are more likely to get them again. But, what exactly is a kidney stone and how can people prevent them?
What Are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that form in your kidneys for a variety of reasons. Most stones are caused by our diet, however, some are due to recurrent infections, or other medical conditions. Unfortunately for some, many people are just more prone to kidney stones than others. In fact, if you have had a kidney stone in the past, you are 50% more likely to get one again in the next 10 years.
How do I know if I have a Kidney Stone?
Many kidney stones have a “classic” painful presentation that will increase a physician’s suspicion that you have a stone. However, stones can only be truly diagnosed with X-Rays or ultrasounds, or if you physically see your stone pass in your urine. If you pass your stone, try and capture it so your doctor can have it analyzed.
Common Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Some people can have kidney stones with no symptoms and pass it with ease, maybe never even have realized it was happening. Other people will experience intense pain in the side, back, or groin, nausea and vomiting, and pain when urinating. Burning when you pee, as well as cloudy red or pink urine, can also indicate that you have a kidney stone. If you do experience these symptoms you should reach out to your doctor immediately for the next steps on diagnosis and treatment.
6 Ways to Help Prevent Kidney Stones
Drinking water is the best way to prevent kidney stones. When your body is hydrated, you produce more urine which means your urine is less concentrated and will dissolve and eliminate the urine salts that cause kidney stones. Drinking around 8 glasses of water a day is recommended to help keep kidney stones at bay.
2. Get More Calcium
Eating calcium is a great way to prevent kidney stones. Low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt are all good calcium options but try to steer clear of calcium supplements as they work the opposite way and can actually cause kidney stones.
3. Lower Your Animal Protein Intake
Foods high in animal protein can cause kidney stones because animal protein is acidic and can increase urine acid which leads to kidney stone development.
4. Keep a Healthy Weight
Obesity is a risk for developing stones. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle complete with diet, exercise, and a healthy weight will help to lower your risk of developing a kidney stone.
5. Skip the Sodas
Soda can increase your chances of having kidney stones because of its high sugar and phosphate content which can cause kidney stones.
6. Eat or Drink More Citrus
The acids in citrus foods and drinks, like lemon juice, not only help to prevent kidney stone development but may also help to dissolve certain types of stones. However, beware of drinking too much sugar from drinks like orange juice or lemonade.
What Treatments Exist?
There are many treatment options for stones. Some may be treated with medications and increasing fluids. Other stones may need to be treated with surgery. However, the majority of stone surgeries do not require incisions and are considered endoscopic surgery.
Kidney stones can be very painful and aren't always easy to prevent, especially If you have a history of them, but following our tips should help you stay away from a painful passing.
As always, it is best to consult a medical professional if you are experiencing symptoms of kidney stones. Your doctor can also give you advice on what foods to avoid to help prevent kidney stones. Looking for more information about kidney stones or want to consult with a medical professional?