Kidney stones and how to prevent them
Kidney stones are a common problem, affecting approximately 12% of men and 5% of women. They form in your kidneys – bean-shaped organs that help filter extra salts, waste and water from your body – and can happen for many reasons. For instance, if you don’t drink enough water, you won’t have enough urine to dilute chemicals. Then the chemicals may form crystals, which can develop into stones.
More reasons why kidney stones form include:
- Fluid loss (dehydration). This can concentrate urine, causing stones to form.
- Certain foods. Some foods contain large amounts of the chemicals that sometimes crystallize into stones. Eating foods that contain a lot of meat or salt can lead to more kidney stones.
- Kidney infections. These infections foster stones by slowing urine flow or changing the acid balance of your urine.
- Family history. If family members have had kidney stones, you’re more likely to have them, too.
- A lack of certain substances in your urine. Some substances can help protect you from forming stones. If you don’t have enough of these in your urine, stone formation can increase.
- Being overweight increases insulin resistance in your body. Insulin resistance increases the amount of calcium filtered into the urine. In turn, this increases the risk of developing a kidney stone.
- Some medicines can increase your risk for kidney stones. Common medicines include water pills (diuretics) and antiviral medicines.
The best ways to prevent kidney stones are:
- DRINK MORE WATER! Up to 12 glasses of water a day can help to flush away the substances that form stones in the kidneys. Ginger ale, lemon-lime sodas and fruit juices are also okay but should be limited due to high sugar content.
- Limit coffee, tea and cola to 1 or 2 cups a day. The caffeine may cause a rapid loss of fluid.
- Talk with your healthcare provider or a dietitian about any diet changes.
- Take medicines prescribed to prevent calcium and uric acid stones from forming.
Many stones cause sudden and severe pain and bloody urine. Others cause nausea or frequent, burning urination. Symptoms often depend on your stone’s size and location. Fever may indicate a serious infection. Call your healthcare provider right away if you develop a fever.
The symptoms of kidney stones may look like other health problems so you should always talk to your doctor for a diagnosis. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Marshall Urology at 304-691-1900 or Marshall Internal Medicine at 304-691-1000.
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