Just because we are in the midst of a viral pandemic, doesn’t make other conditions less important. Especially if you have that condition.
Most people don’t worry much about kidney stones -until you have one. And once you have one, and get over it, you tend to forget about it. At least until the next time, which happens to at least 30% of those affected.
What are kidney stones?
Stones, or urinary tract calculi, don’t usually cause symptoms as long as they stay in the kidney. But if they migrate down into the ureter, the tiny tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder, trouble begins. As the stones try to wiggle their way down the narrow passageway, spasms of pain result; and the bigger the stone the worse.
Fortunately, most stones less than 10 mm, or about 3/8 of an inch, eventually pass into the bladder and out the body through the urethra. Some get stuck and must be removed. Occasionally, large stones can block the kidney, leading to infection. But , once you have had a stone, you want to prevent another.
What causes kidney stones?
We know what substances cause most stones- chemicals that normally pass through the urine but sometimes build up, harden and form into tiny rock -like structures called calculi. 95% of stones contain calcium, while the other 5% are made of uric acid a few other minerals.
Steps to stopping kidney stones
These steps can lessen the risk of new stones in people who have already had one. We don’t know if it applies to people who have never had any stones. Check with your doctor to see if any of these are right for you.
Drink enough water to produce 2-2.5 quarts/liters of urine every day.
A high fluid, preferably water, intake can prevent build up of these stone causing chemicals. At least 2 quarts/liters daily is recommended, more if one does heavy physical activity , sports, or lives in a hot climate.
Limit the amount of sodium, salt, in the diet.
Since the majority of stones contain calcium, it might make sense to limit calcium. But the kidneys spend more time filtering sodium; so with less sodium, more calcium can be flushed away and so it’s not making stones. Here are 5 tips to reduce salt intake from WebMD.
Limit intake of oxalate rich foods.
Oxalate, combined with calcium, is another chemical found in kidney stones. It comes from eating rhubarb, spinach, tea, nuts and cocoa.
Although watercress and other greens contain oxalate, it’s probably not necessary to avoid them entirely; they also are a good source of calcium which attaches to the oxalate, removing both from the body. Moderate amounts with adequate fluid intake should be safe, unless your doctor tells your otherwise.
Limit intake of certain animal proteins.
High purine foods can cause the less common uric acid stones. To prevent uric acid stones, cut down on high-purine foods such as red meat, organ meats, beer/alcoholic beverages, meat-based gravies, sardines, anchovies and shellfish.
Eat a whole foods, plant based diet.
- Follow a healthy diet plan that has mostly vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
- Limit sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, especially those that have high fructose corn syrup.
- Limit alcohol because it can increase uric acid levels in the blood and avoid short term diets for the same reason.
- Drink beverages with lime and lemon juice.
This information is current as of the publication date; it is general medical information that helps doctors and patients make decisions about what is right for them. Medical recommendations and practice changes as we learn new things. Discuss with your physician or appropriate healthcare provider .
Get expert advice about kidney stones at these links.
Eating tips from the National Kidney Foundation
Watch a brief video about kidney stones from MedlinePlus here.
Print a PDF handout at this link- Preventing Kidney Stones -from the American Academy of Family Physicians
I don’t know if deer get kidney stones, but if so, they are doing the right thing. I like this photo which is also from the LIGHTSTOCK.COM collection.
exploring the HEART of health
Thank you for joining me to explore the HEART of health. I hope you’ve learned something new about kidney stones; I hope you never have one! Please contact me about topics you want to read about.