Kidney stones may get stuck in the urinary system, blocking the flow of urine and causing pain. Kidney stones are no fun, but with the right diet, nutrition and drinking plenty of water, you can prevent kidney stones from striking you.
If someone has ever passed kidney stones, then they will do anything to avoid it again. Kidney stones come with extreme pain that often comes and goes in waves.
Although kidney stones tend to be more common in men than women, anyone can develop them. As we grow older, the odds of forming kidney stones also tends to rise. Infact, once you have kidney stones, you’re already at a higher risk of getting a second one within a few years.
What are kidney stones and why do they form?
Kidney stones are solid crystals of various sizes formed in the kidney. These stones can block the flow of urine causing excruciating pain, infection, damage and even kidney failure.
Kidney stones are formed when certain minerals such as calcium, uric acid and oxalate are in excess in the kidneys. These minerals accumulate to grow into crystals that often make their way to the urinary tract.
Once the stones are formed, they can dislodge to pass through the urinary tract and blocking the flow of urine. People with stones may suffer from repetitive severe pain, nausea, vomiting and may see blood in the urine too.
One of the biggest reason for forming kidney stones is not drinking enough water. That means, you won’t urinate much, which gives the stones more chances to grow. Your diet and genes may also encourage kidney stones growth. About 40% of people who gets kidney stones also have relatives who have suffered from kidney stones before.
Other symptoms of kidney stones
- Frequent urinating and bladder pressure due to stones passing down the urinary tract
- A wave of extreme pain in an interval of 20 minutes to 1 hour.
- Passing of small stones often caused by uric stones
- Passing of blood in the urine.
- Fever and sweating
Steps you can take to prevent kidney stones
Eat calcium-rich food – Dietary calcium helps to bind the oxalate preventing it from getting absorbed into our bloodstream. This reduces the amount of oxalate in the urine, so there is less chance of suffering from kidney stones.
Eat more citrus fruits – Citrus fruits such as lemon, orange and grapefruit has citrate, a type of citric acid salt. They can bind calcium and prevent stone formations in the kidney.
Drink more water – Severe dehydration can cause kidney damage, so it is important to drink enough water to keep calcium and uric acid diluted to prevent stone formation. It is best recommended to drink enough water to pass about 2 litres of urine to keep healthy kidneys.
Reduce consumption of sodium-rich food – A diet rich in sodium can trigger kidney stones because it increases the amount of sodium in your urine.
Limit animal protein – Eating too much animal protein such as red meat, poultry, seafood and eggs increases the level of uric acid in our body. Animal protein also reduces the level of urinary citrate, which is responsible to prevent stones from forming.
I think I have a kidney stone. What should I do?
If you notice any kidney stone symptoms, you must immediately seek medical help from a GP.
A GP will start your diagnosis with a medical history, physical examination and asking to get imagining tests. You might be asked to do a CT scan or an X-ray to confirm or to see the size, numbers and positions of the stones.
For some people, your doctor might recommend an IVP, a special type of X-ray of the urinary system. You will be referred to a specialist like a Urologist or a Urological Surgeon if required.