If you’ve experienced kidney stones, it’s probably not a life event you’d like to repeat. Kidney stone attacks typically occur in middle-age adults, pulling them away from their careers and family obligations from a few days to several weeks at a time. The side effects of passing a kidney stone, even in the mildest form, are unpleasant. Some patients have said the pain rivals that of child birth. Though kidney stones may form despite a patient’s best efforts, making lifestyle modifications may aid in the prevention of future kidney stones.
According to the Urology Care Foundation, there are several risk factors which contribute to the formation of kidney stones including gender, race, family history, and even geographical location. Caucasian individuals have the highest instance of kidney stones followed by Mexican Americans, as reported in a recent article published by The New York Times. (http://nyti.ms/1Rk9MXf) Men are at a higher risk of developing the condition, though there has been a recent influx in the number of women who experience kidney stones.
The American Urological Foundation refers to the southeastern and central southern United States as the “Stone Belt” due to the high level of reported kidney stones, thought to be a factor of the hot weather and higher rates of dehydration. Patients whose family members also develop kidney stones have an increased risk of developing stones themselves. (http://bit.ly/1I3tkLk)
To reduce the risk of developing kidney stones, consider your controllable risk factors to make informed choices throughout your daily routine. Your Greater Boston Urology physician can help you determine the most beneficial actions to take based on the specific type of kidney stone you’ve experienced.
Increase Fluid Intake: Staying adequately hydrated will help to dilute urine, allowing minerals and salts to be flushed out of the body. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommend that individuals who have had kidney stones in the past should drink enough fluids to produce a minimum of 2 liters of urine per day. This level may fluctuate based on a person’s activity level and environment. Increasing the intake of water and other fluids is the most important component of kidney stone prevention. (http://1.usa.gov/1cNGKAQ)
Hold the Salt: The average intake of sodium in the United States is 3,400 milligrams per day, which is 1,100 milligrams over the recommended daily intake, as stated by the NIDDK. Excessive sodium, often in the form of salt, causes the kidneys to dispense more calcium into the urine, which binds with oxalate and phosphorus to create kidney stones. (http://1.usa.gov/1cNGKAQ)
Limit Animal Protein: If you’ve been diagnosed with uric acid kidney stones, limiting meat consumption to six ounces per day can help prevent kidney stones from reoccurring. Purines, which are found in animal proteins, can form uric acid in urine. Animal proteins may also inflate the risk of developing calcium kidney stones by reducing the body’s absorption of stone-stopping citrate. Combined with decreasing animal protein, a well-balanced diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruit will help to control weight, increase overall health, and prevent new kidney stones from forming. (http://1.usa.gov/1cNGKAQ)
Seek Assistance from Professionals: Physicians can determine the type of kidney stones you’re developing and establish the correct diet and medications needed to reduce your future risks. If you’re experiencing reoccurring kidney stones, schedule an appointment with a Greater Boston Urology urologist who can help uncover the cause and prevent new kidney stones from forming.