What Causes Kidney Stones? How to Avoid Them?
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) it is estimated that 19 percent of males and 9 percent of females will be diagnosed with a kidney stone by the age of 70 years old. What Causes Kidney Stones? How to Avoid Them? Pay attention to these signs and symptoms of kidney stones and follow simple guidelines to avoid them.
Kidney stones will wake you up with a really severe back (flank) pain that will often radiate to the abdomen and especially to the groin, testicle, and labia areas. It is often sharp and stabbing in nature. It may also be colicky and the pain is often associated with nausea and vomiting. If an infection is the reason, you will have fever and chills, and the pain will get worse and sometimes will migrate down within 30-90 minutes. The pain is positional and sometimes people get some relief from it by being in a fetal position in the bed. Kidney stones have several stages of pain that last from 30 min to several days if it is not treated appropriately. And lastly, if you see blood in your urine don't panic, it is very common.
The good news is about 80 to 90% of kidney stones pass spontaneously. About 3% of patients need admission to the hospital because of the pain, inability to pass the stone or hydration. If the stone is big then it will require surgical removal. Hydration is the key to the successful treatment of all kidney stones. Kidney stones are related to decreased urine volume or increased excretion of stone-forming components such as calcium, oxalate, uric acid, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate.
Three major types of kidney stones
- Calcium stones "70-80 percent of the stones
- Uric acid stones are associated with a pH of less than 5 (acidic urine)
- Struvite stones caused by urinary tract infection
Follow these steps to avoid a trip to the hospital
- Stay hydrated. It will ensure you have adequate urine output.
- Decrease intake of spinach, coffee, beet, peanuts, and soy products.
- Decrease your salt intake. Watch out for processed/canned food
- Eat food with high Calcium content like milk, and cheese
- Decrease protein intake from meats (chicken, fish, beef)
- Decrease vitamin "C" intake.
- Make sure to read about the medications and herbal supplements that you are taking. There are plenty of drugs and herbs that could cause kidney stones as a side effect.
Remember if you have recurrent Kidney stones, there are medications that would help you decrease the risk of getting them again (your risk will go up by 50% after the first episode). Talk to your healthcare provider so they could take a good history and run some diagnostic tests to figure out what type of stone you have and or what underlying medical condition is contributing to the formation of stones.