What are a kidney stones?
Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and acid salts that stick together in concentrated urine. Kidney stones are a common cause of blood in the urine and often the cause of severe pain; however, they usually don’t cause permanent damage.
One in ten people will have a kidney stone over the course of a lifetime and recent studies have shown that kidney stone rates are on the rise across the country. The most common symptom is severe pain, usually on the side of the abdomen, often associated with nausea.
Tips for Prevention
- Stay hydrated – Loss of water through sweating, whether due to strenuous activity or just the heat of summer, leads to less urine production. As a result, stone-causing minerals can settle and bond in the kidneys and urinary tract. To counteract this effect, stay well hydrated, especially when engaging in activities that cause a lot of sweating.
- Eat Oxalate-rich foods wisely – Most kidney stones are formed when oxalate binds to calcium while urine is produced by the kidneys; but cutting out Oxalate-rich foods (such as peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, beets, chocolate, and sweet potatoes) is not the smart choice from an overall health perspective. Instead, eat and drink calcium-rich and oxalate-rich foods together during a meal so that the oxalate and calcium are more likely to bind to one another in the stomach and intestines, not the kidneys, making it less likely that kidney stones will form.
- Don’t avoid calcium – It’s a common misconception that calcium is the main culprit in the formation of stones; however, a diet low in calcium can actually increase the risk of developing kidney stones. So don’t reduce your calcium intake; instead, cut back on the sodium in your diet and, as mentioned above, pair calcium-rich foods with oxalate-rich foods.
- Listen to your physician – Passing a kidney stone, often described as one of the most painful experiences a person can have, is, unfortunately, not always a one-time event. Studies have shown that having one stone greatly increases your chances of having another. In many cases, this is because people do not make the changes needed after their first stone event. So take action by heeding the advice of your nephrologist or urinary specialist; take prescribed medications and follow nutritional advice.
- Be proactive – Chronic kidney stones are often treated medically with potassium citrate; studies have shown though that fruits and juices high in natural citrate (e.g. limeade, lemonade, etc.) offer the same stone-preventing benefits. Watch the sugar in juices, though, as it can increase kidney stone risk; look for sugar-free or make your own to restrict the amount of sugar.
- Watch the purines – Another common type of kidney stones is uric acid stones, formed when high purine intake leads to a higher production of uric acid, which produces a larger acid load for the kidneys to excrete, making it easier for uric acid stones to form. To help prevent uric acid stones
- Limit your intake of high-purine foods such as red meat, organ meats, and shellfish.
- Follow a healthy diet that contains plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low fat dairy products.
- Limit sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, especially those that contain high fructose corn syrup.
- Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid crash diets; both can increase uric acid levels in the blood.
If you have questions or concerns about kidney stones, contact the Urology Group of Princeton to schedule an appointment. The board certified physician/surgeons at the Urology Group are highly trained to evaluate your symptoms, perform applicable tests, and develop the proper treatment plan.