Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits formed inside the kidneys. They can cause excruciating pain when passing through the urinary tract. While there is no cure-all for kidney stones, particularly if you have a family history of them, a proper lifestyle and diet can help reduce the risk.
What are Kidney Stones?
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Kidney stones usually develop when the minerals in the urine crystallize, creating a stone-like deposit. Normally, the compounds in the urine prevent these crystals from developing. Some people develop these stones when their urine comprises more substances that are all crystal-forming than the accessible fluid it dilutes. These substances include uric acid and calcium. Kidney stones may also form when the urine is highly alkaline or highly acidic.
The conditions that allow kidney stones to form are often problems in how your body absorbs and eliminates substances like calcium. Several drugs, like Lasix, Xenical, and Topamax can also contribute to the development of kidney stones.
Who is More Prone?
The term kidney stones refers to various small and solid crystals formed from a variety of causes, ranging from kidney infections to a lack of vital minerals. Genetics can also play a role, as 40% of people with kidney stones have a family history. Other conditions that pose a risk include:
Some kidney diseases: Diseases like polycystic kidney disease and medullary sponge kidney may result in kidney stones.
Intestinal surgery: There is a greater risk of kidney stones when you have undergone gastric bypass surgery.
Gout: This is a painful condition wherein the uric acid builds up in the blood. This may then form crystal substances in the kidneys.
Obesity: The more weight you accumulate, the more at risk you are of developing kidney stones.
Things to Watch Out for to Prevent Kidney Stones
Having good health doesn’t guarantee you won’t get kidney stones. Even if you have an overall good condition of health, your diet can still encourage kidney stones. Not drinking enough water during the day can greatly increase your risk, as drinking enough water ensures frequent urination and waste disposal. The less you pee, the greater your chances of accumulating deposits that will turn into kidney stones.
How to Prevent Kidney Stones
Eat Calcium-rich Foods: Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type of kidney stone. This may make you think you should avoid calcium, but actually the opposite is true. Consuming calcium supplements with a proper meal helps reduce the risk of kidney stones.
Stay Hydrated: This is the best way to prevent kidney stones from occurring. Getting enough water increases your urine output, while low urine outputs mean your urine is more concentrated and less likely to dissolve the salts in your body that cause kidney stones.
Consume Less Sodium: Excessive salt may increase the risk of kidney stones. You should avoid several foods that are high in sodium, such as:
-Foods that contain monosodium glutamate
-Processed foods, such as chips and crackers
-Foods that contain sodium bicarbonate
-Foods that contain sodium nitrate
Eat Fewer Oxalate-rich Foods: various types of kidney stones are made of oxalate, which binds with calcium to form kidney stones. Eating fewer oxalate-rich foods may help prevent kidney stones.
Eat Less Protein: Animal protein is rich, very acidic and may increase the urine acid in the body. This might cause a formation of kidney stones, so you should avoid eating animal proteins like beef, pork, poultry and even fish.
Having kidney stones is common. There is no assurance that these ways to prevent kidney stones will work for you. However, they may at least help reduce the risk. The best option to prevent the formation of kidney stones is staying hydrated and making small changes to your diet and lifestyle. However, if you see signs of more serious conditions, such as bowel disease, a persistent UTI, obesity or inflammation, consult your doctor.