The 7 Best Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones

January 21,2020 |

What You Can Do to Prevent Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are deposits of certain minerals and salts that crystallize in the kidneys and form small to large masses.2 Once they crystallize, they can no longer naturally dissolve and instead, need to be passed through the urinary tract system to be eliminated out of the body. Kidney stones are fairly common and once you get one, you’re about 50% more likely to get another one within the next 10 years.3

Not only are kidney stones an annoyance, but they can also be extremely painful and accompanied by a range of other symptoms. Some people report having bloody urine, an intense pain in the lower back, nausea, fever, stomachaches, or urine that has a foul odor in addition to the kidney stone itself.2 If you think you have a kidney stone, or are experiencing symptoms that last for more than a few days, it’s important to see your doctor to find a treatment plan that will work for you. To help avoid these situations, prevention is key. Keep reading to learn what you can do to prevent kidney stones.

Risk Factors for Kidney Stones

Some people get kidney stones regularly and others will never experience one. In these cases, it might be more than the lifestyle choices that you make. Instead, certain people possess more risk factors for kidney stones that could be due to infections, body composition, or even genetics. For instance, up to 40% of people who have had a kidney stone in their life also have relatives who’ve had them.4

If you are overweight, you’re more likely to get kidney stones.4 The same applies if you have diabetes or live a sedentary lifestyle. If you’ve had gout, intestinal surgery, or certain kidney diseases, you may be more at risk for developing kidney stones.4 Finally, people who have hyperthyroidism often report getting kidney stones more often than those who don’t.4

Your diet has a huge impact on whether or not you develop kidney stones, so be mindful of what you eat and try to take care of your body, especially if you have any of the above risk factors or regularly experience kidney stones.

Best Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones

With that being said, there are a number of things you can do to help your body actively fight the formation of kidney stones. Follow these 7 best ways to prevent kidney stones to reap the biggest benefit.

  1. Drink Plenty of Water

    Staying hydrated is key to preventing kidney stones. In fact, it’s arguably the best preventative action you can take. When you’re dehydrated, your urine is more concentrated, which makes it harder for your body to naturally dissolve minerals that cause kidney stones.3 Aim to drink at least 8, 8oz glasses of water a day. Your exercise routine or previous history with kidney stones may require you to drink more than this. Talk to your doctor or a dietician to learn more about how much water you should be drinking.

    Reduce Soda Intake

    Soda is extremely unhealthy and contains an excessive amount of sugar. There is evidence that surgery drinks, especially those sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, can cause the development of kidney stones.2 If you aren’t a fan of drinking water, try adding slices of citrus and a few mint sprigs to your water instead. If you’re having trouble eliminating soda or sugary drinks completely, slowly wean yourself off instead of going cold turkey.

    Lower Caffeine Consumption

    Caffeine is another thing that you’ll want to limit. You don’t have to completely eliminate it from your routine, but try to avoid drinking it excessively. Caffeine speeds up your metabolism and causes dehydration.2 Try not to exceed 400mg/day and keep in mind that caffeine is in more foods and drinks than just coffee.2

    Compensate for Sweating

    As we mentioned, if you exercise or sweat then you’ll need to drink more water than those who live a more sedentary life. Things like hot yoga, the use of saunas, and strenuous exercise will cause you to sweat out a lot of your body’s water intake—which is actually very beneficial. However, you will need to up your intake to compensate for the sweat lost. Learn more about how much water to drink based on your regular activity levels and adjust accordingly.

     

  2. Eat a Calcium-Rich Diet

    Calcium plays an important role in kidney stone prevention. Since the most common type of kidney stones are calcium oxalate stones , people think they need to eliminate calcium from their diet—this is not entirely true.3 When you eat a low-calcium diet, you’re actually increasing your risk of developing stones. Instead, eat a diet that is naturally rich in non-oxalate calcium and avoid taking calcium supplements.3

     

  3. Try Reducing Oxalate-Rich Foods

    Calcium oxalate-rich foods can be difficult for your body to break down if you’re susceptible to kidney stones. The oxalate ends up binding to calcium in urine and increases the chances of kidney stones forming.3 Reducing oxalate-rich foods in your diet is a good preventative measure.

     

  4. Read Food Labels

    To make sure you know what you’re eating, take the time to read food labels carefully. You won’t know what sort of additives are in your favorite foods until you check. Reading food labels will help you make better choices and will give you a more comprehensive understanding about how certain foods affect you and why.

    For the best results, opt for a diet plan that directly aids in kidney stone prevention. When you indulge, try to make healthy choices and listen to your body. What works for some people might not work for others, so it’s important to experiment with different foods and take note of how your body reacts.

     

  5. Choose Protein Wisely

    Not all protein is created equal. Animal protein tends to be more acidic than other types of protein, which can increase urine acid and cause uric acid stones and calcium oxalate kidney stones.3 To mitigate the effects of animal protein, try to incorporate more vegetarian protein sources. 

     

  6. Reduce Sodium Intake

    Salt increases the possibility of dehydration, which creates a stronger breeding ground for kidney stones to develop. Reduce your sodium intake to roughly 2,300mg/day or below to help prevent kidney stones.2

     

  7. Consider Preventative Medication

There are a number of preventative medications that can help your body regulate the amount of minerals and salt in your urine.1 This is beneficial for people who experience recurring kidney stones regardless of the lifestyle changes above. Talk to your doctor about using a preventative medication to help reduce kidney stones.

Additionally, tell your doctor any medications you are currently taking, as certain ones have been shown to increase the formation of kidney stones. Your doctor will be able to recommend alternatives or pair your current prescriptions or over-the-counter medications with a good preventative one.

It’s also important to remember that because of the makeup of kidney stones, different types will have different preventative measures. Find out what kind of stones you get and follow the recommendations for calcium oxalate stones, calcium phosphate stones, uric acid stones, and cystine stones.

Treating Kidney Stones

If prevention proves ineffective, finding the best treatment to help you pass your kidney stones is important. Kidney stones can be painful, so the sooner you pass them, the better. For the most part, kidney stone treatment simply involves waiting. Small stones can be passed through your urinary tract system naturally and while it might be uncomfortable, you will eventually find relief. Stay hydrated and take over-the-counter pain relievers to help advance the stones and ease the pain.

If your kidney stones are larger and cause noticeable symptoms, you will likely need medical intervention. There are a few ways that your urologist will help you pass larger stones:

  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) – this uses sound waves and corresponding vibrations to help break up the stones into smaller pieces.1

     

  • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy – this is when your urologist surgically removes the kidney stones through a small incision.1

     

  • Ureteroscopes – a thing, camera equipped tube is inserted through your urethra and bladder to retrieve the stone or break it up.1

     

  • Parathyroid Gland Surgery – if your kidney stones are caused by an overactive parathyroid gland, your doctor may recommend this surgery to help you avoid future kidney stones.1

If you notice any signs or symptoms of kidney stones that aren’t going away, or are experiencing high levels of pain, contact your doctor today. You will need a consultation to determine the best course of action regarding how to treat your kidney stones.

Conclusion

Regardless of if you’ve had kidney stones before or not, taking preventative measures will help ensure that you don’t have to suffer through the pain of passing them. Each kidney stone is different, so there’s no real way you can prepare for the discomfort associated with them. If you experience excessive pain or discomfort, talk to your urologist about scheduling a consultation. To learn more about urological supplies, urology problems and complications, or educational resource, visit our educational support page or our product selection guide. Byram is proud to be a full-service urological care supplier and we have all of the high quality urological supplies you need. As an added bonus, all of your supplies can be discreetly delivered to your home, any time of the day. If you have any questions or are looking for personalized, confidential services, our teams of knowledgeable urological customer service specialists are here to help. 

 

Sources:

1https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-stones/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355759

2https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319537.php#prevention

3https://www.healthline.com/health/kidney-health/how-to-prevent-kidney-stones#diet-and-supplements

4https://www.webmd.com/kidney-stones/understanding-kidney-stones-prevention#1

 

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