If you’re one of the 1 in 10 Americans who has developed kidney stones, you understand the excruciating pain they cause. These hard deposits of minerals make your life miserable as they travel through your urinary system and exit your body.
If you’ve had a kidney stone in the past, your risk of getting another stone increases by 50% unless you take preventive steps. At Urology Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California, we diagnose and treat conditions related to the urinary tract, including kidney stones.
If you want to avoid getting a stone, our team has put together this information on what kidney stones are and what you can do to stop them from developing.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones range from very small to about the size of a golf ball. These hard deposits are made up of minerals, crystal-forming substances like calcium, uric acid, salt, and oxalate.
When your urinary system doesn’t have enough water to flush away these minerals, they become concentrated in your urine. This allows them to crystalize and stick together, forming hard stones.
Although they can be extremely painful, most of the time kidney stones don’t pose a lasting threat to your health if they’re diagnosed and treated quickly. Treatment depends on the size and position of your stone.
Smaller stones may only require pain medication and waiting for the stone to pass. Stones that block the flow of urine or stones that are too large to pass easily may require additional treatment, such as lithotripsy, which breaks up larger stones into sand-like particles.
Are kidney stones preventable?
Heredity and certain medical conditions, like gout, can make it more difficult to prevent kidney stones from forming. But there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing kidney stones.
At Urology Associates Medical Group, we put together our top four tips to help prevent kidney stones. Here’s a closer look.
Water, water, water
You’re more likely to develop kidney stones when your urinary system doesn’t have enough water to dilute the minerals present in waste products.
Drinking water helps your urine stay diluted and works to flush waste products out of your system before they have a chance to crystalize and form stones.
Aim to drink at least 12 glasses of water each day, and more if you’re exercising or when the weather is warm. Limiting your caffeine intake and reducing your consumption of other beverages, like soda pop and sports drinks, can also help keep kidney stones at bay.
On average, Americans consume too much sodium, increasing the risk for many different types of health conditions, including kidney stones. You may think of sodium as the salt in your salt shaker, but most of the sodium we consume comes from processed and packaged foods.
These high-sodium foods increase the amount of calcium present in your urine, fostering the development of kidney stones, especially when combined with too little water. Instead of packaged goods, consume more whole foods and reduce the amount of salt in your diet.
Eat more veggies and fruits
Eating animal protein (eggs, dairy, white and red meat, fish) increases the amount of uric acid present in your system.
At the same time, animal-based foods reduce the amount of urinary citrate, a chemical your body produces that helps prevent minerals from crystalizing in your urine and forming stones.
Instead of centering meals around animal-based foods, reach for plant-based options. Increase the variety of plant-based foods you eat, including calcium-rich options like soy, beans, and lentils to ensure your diet is well-balanced and has the nutrients you need to stop kidney stones from forming.
Get rid of excess weight
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of almost every adverse health condition, including the development of kidney stones. Research consistently links excess weight to stone formation due to an increased level of uric acid present in overweight and obese people.
If you’re overweight or obese and struggling with kidney stones or are worried about developing them, talk to your doctor about your weight and commit to making the changes necessary to eliminate the extra pounds.
If you’re struggling with kidney stones or want to learn more about prevention, call our Burbank, California, office or request an appointment online. Our office also offers telemedicine appointments.