Kidney stones are a painful, unpleasant urological condition that many adults will experience at some point in their life. While some people might experience the passage of just one or two stones, others will experience kidney stones many times throughout adulthood. Getting the facts about kidney stone formation, passage, and prevention will help you understand this common occurrence. If you know that you are at risk for developing kidney stones, work closely with your doctor or a urological health specialist to help minimize the chance of their development.
1. The precise cause of kidney stones is not always clear.
There are many factors that contribute to the development of kidney stones and not all of them are in a patient’s direct control. Genetics may play a role in a person’s tendency towards developing them in the first place. If your parents or grandparents had a history of kidney stone development or if kidney disease runs in your family, then your chances of experiencing these conditions yourself increases. If possible, review kidney health with parents, grandparents, and other relatives to discover what kind of complaints they suffered and what treatment was followed.
2. There are multiple types of kidney stones.
Though all kidney stones might feel similarly painful, their composition is actually an important thing to consider. Knowing this, a doctor can provide prevention and care information that is more precisely suited to each patient’s needs. These are three of the most common types of kidney stones:
Calcium stones: The most common type of kidney stone, these are more frequently caused by a buildup of calcium oxalate. This substance is produced in the liver and is found in high concentration in some vegetables and fruit, chocolate, and nuts. High vitamin D levels, intestinal bypass surgery, and some other conditions can contribute to the formation of calcium stones.
Uric acid stones: These are most likely to form in people who do not drink enough water to keep their bodies sufficiently hydrated; people with gout or with health conditions that cause fluid loss are also at risk for uric acid stones. Uric acid is a byproduct of cell metabolism; in optimal circumstances, it is passed harmlessly out of the body during urination. Sometimes this substance can collect to form hard, dense stones.
Struvite stones: These form in response to infections, particularly infections that affect the urinary tract. Struvite stones can be especially problematic because they have the potential to develop very quickly. This provides the patient with no warning symptoms that might allow them to seek treatment.
3. Calcium is not the only culprit.
Though calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate are the substances present in the most frequently seen kidney stones, reducing dietary calcium is not necessarily the best prevention strategy. Another strategy to consider is to eat foods rich in calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate in the same meal; the substances will bind together and be removed from the system more effectively as a result. A reduction in overall dietary sodium is another strategy that works with the body’s chemistry to promote optimal urinary tract health. A urologist or a dietician specializing in kidney health will be able to help you identify what foods are problematic and which foods can be safely enjoyed.
4. Excessive sweating can be a problem for kidney health.
Sweating is a function that helps keep your body cool when the environment heats up. Water and trace minerals are expelled through pores in the skin. Hydrating after sweating is very important since the expelled fluid is no longer present inside the body. This leaves your system less able to process various waste products, including stone-causing minerals. Over time, these minerals build up in the kidneys and turn into stones. If you exercise frequently or sweat often, make sure to hydrate afterwards. Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated. Avoid sugary sports drinks and other gimmicky products that promise increase hydration; water is best.
5. Track your purine intake.
As mentioned above, kidney stones can have different mineral compositions. Uric acid stones can develop as a result of a eating a diet that heavily features shellfish, red meat, and organ meats. These foods have a high concentration of purine, a natural chemical compound. Your body produces larger amounts of uric acid in response to purine intake, which gradually shifts the pH balance of your urine. High uric acid secretion drops the pH balance of urine, giving it an acidic character. Acidic urine makes it easier for uric acid stones to form in the kidneys.
Decreasing consumption of foods high in purine is a good strategy for anyone prone to uric acid kidney stones or who is seeking to reduce their risk of kidney disease. A low-purine diet will feature lots of fruits and vegetables, minimally processed flour, low fat dairy products, and a limited amount of sugary snacks. High fat treats such as cake, pie, cookies, muffins, and donuts should also be avoided.
6. Diet makes a difference.
Food choices play an important role in the development of kidney stones and their prevention. If your diet is high in protein, sugar, and sodium then you may not be experiencing optimal kidney health. Sodium raises the amount of calcium that must pass through your kidneys, which increases the risk of developing kidney stones. Reducing sodium intake is therefore an especially good way to support kidney health.
7. Surgery is not always necessary.
Kidney stone treatment depends in part on the type of stone a patient is experiencing and its overall size. Relatively small stones will pass through the urine stream naturally; pain relievers and plenty of water will help this process. Sound wave therapy can be used to break up larger stones into pieces small enough for easy passage.
There are also natural supplements that can help pass and in some cases dissolve stones. Celery Seed Extract is a natural diuretic, assisting the body in removing excess waste. In this case a kidney stone. Continuing to drink plenty of water is critical.
The sharp edges and barbs of kidney stones makes keeping the urinary tract healthy crucial. Many natural supplements heal and reduce inflammation of the urinary tract. Such as Uva Ursi Leaves, Marshmallow Root, and Buchu Leaves.
There are also common supplement formulas that combine many powerful natural ingredients that assist the body in passing and recovering form kidney stones.
Always discuss your options with your doctor. And drink plenty of water!