Have you ever had a kidney stone? If the answer is yes, chances are high that you’ll develop more. In fact, about 50% of people with kidney stones get another within seven years — unless they start taking preventive measures.
Kidney stones are mineral deposits that develop in your kidneys. To exit the body, they must pass through the urinary tract, often causing waves of intense pain as they move along. Some larger stones need medical intervention, like shockwave therapy, to pass.
You don’t have control over some kidney stone risk factors, such as genetics and certain digestive diseases. But you can make a number of lifestyle changes to minimize your chances of getting kidney stones.
The expert urologists at Advanced Urology, with offices in Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, and Culver City, California, are here to share our best tips for preventing kidney stones. Our team regularly diagnoses and treats kidney stones, and with a few simple tips, you can reduce your risk of suffering from this painful condition.
Drinking water is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of kidney stones. Most people should drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and you’ll need to drink more if you’re exercising or sweating a lot.
Getting plenty of water makes you pass more urine, and it dilutes that urine. Less concentrated urine is more likely to dissolve the compounds that form kidney stones, effectively reducing your risk for them.
While most of what you drink should be water, it’s okay to have other beverages from time to time. Occasionally enjoying orange juice or other citrus juices may even help prevent stones, because citrus fruits contain citrate, which has been shown to mitigate stone formation.
Watch sodium and animal protein intake
Sodium, or salt, is linked to kidney stones because salt in urine causes high urine calcium. When calcium levels in urine are high, stones can develop. Read food labels carefully to check for sodium content, and try seasoning your food with herbs instead of salt.
Protein is an essential nutrient, but too much animal protein may increase your risk of developing kidney stones. Animal proteins like beef, poultry, pork, and fish are acidic and can increase acid levels in urine. Eating a diet high in these foods can contribute to kidney stones.
Limit foods high in oxalates
Oxalate is naturally found in many foods. Like sodium, it interacts with calcium in your urine and can increase your risk of kidney stones. When urine contains a lot of oxalate, it binds to calcium to create stones.
A few common foods high in oxalates include:
- Soy products
You can still enjoy these foods if you’re at risk for kidney stones, but do so in moderation and in combination with a nutritious diet.
Strive to reach a healthy weight
Being obese and having a large waist circumference may increase your risk of developing kidney stones. Carrying extra weight also increases your risk of diabetes, which is another risk factor for recurrent kidney stones. Working to lose those extra pounds through a healthy diet and exercise can improve overall health while also preventing kidney stones.
Nutrition is an essential element of losing weight, but many weight-loss diets focus on protein. If you’re losing weight to reduce your risk of kidney stones, strive to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and appropriate portions of protein.
Consider your medications
Certain medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can increase your chances of developing a kidney stone. They include decongestants, diuretics, and steroids, and the longer you take them, the greater the likelihood that you could experience kidney stones.
Talk to the Advanced Urology team to find out whether any of the medications you’re taking could influence your risk factors for kidney stones, but never stop taking a prescription medication without consulting your health care team first.
If you consistently get a certain type of kidney stone, preventive medications could be a good option for you. These prescriptions work to regulate mineral levels in urine to prevent kidney stones from developing.
You can reduce your risk for kidney stones with a few simple lifestyle changes. To find out more about preventing stones, call one of our offices, or schedule an appointment online.