November 19, 2019
Often described as “worse than childbirth,” kidney stones are the dreaded consequence of dissolved minerals building up on the inner lining of the kidneys. The stones are generally small and pebble-like, but can sometimes be as large as a pea or even a golf ball, blocking the flow of urine and causing indescribable pain. Symptoms include sharp pains in the back, side, or lower abdomen, red or brown urine, nausea and vomiting, and fever or chills.
Certain things make a person more susceptible to kidney stones, like gout, chronic bowel inflammation, and obesity. Men are also five percent more likely than women to develop kidney stones, especially if there’s a family history of the painful illness or if they’ve already developed one in the past. In fact, if you’ve had a kidney stone once, you’re 50 percent more likely to get another within 10 years.
Though there’s no definitive way to totally prevent kidney stones, doctors do offer tips to make the agonizing stones less likely. Here are four healthy habits that may help keep kidney stones at bay.
The most effective way to prevent kidney stones is drinking lots of water. Not only does it increase urine output, which helps decrease urine concentration, it also helps your body dissolve urine salts that can cause stones. By drinking enough water to pass two liters of urine a day, you can ensure your body has enough fluid to lower your risk. If the thought of drinking this much water bores your taste buds, try adding lemon or orange slices—these both contain citrate, which helps prevent the formation of mineral crystals that can develop into kidney stones.
Diets high in sodium increase the amount of calcium in your urine, so doctors recommend limiting your daily intake of sodium to 2,300 mg. If you’ve already had a kidney stone, you may want to lower your sodium levels even further, sticking to a daily dose less than 1,500 mg. Not only will this be good for your blood pressure and your heart, it will help reduce your risk of kidney stones.
Animal proteins are often highly acidic, which increases the concentration of acid in the urine. This can cause two types of kidney stones: uric acid and calcium oxalate. Foods with the most risk of increasing the likelihood of kidney stones include beef, fish, poultry, and pork. Try practicing a diet high in plant-based protein to help keep the acid levels in your urine low.
While too much calcium can also cause kidney stones, so can too little—causing oxalate levels to rise and the risk of kidney stones to increase. Talk to your doctor about how much calcium you should be getting for your age. If you’re worried you aren’t getting enough calcium from your food, you can try a low-dose calcium supplement, but make sure the dose isn’t so high that it surpasses your doctor’s recommendation.
Combatting kidney stones can seem excessive if you don’t think you’re prone to them, but anyone who has experienced kidney stone pain will tell you that it’s absolutely worth it. By making a few shifts to your daily routine and lifestyle, you can help reduce the risk of agonizing symptoms that require immediate medical attention.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.