The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Kidney Stones

July 05, 2024

Summer is a time for outdoor activities and sunshine, but it can also be a season of increased kidney stone risk. Dehydration in hot weather can lead to the formation of painful kidney stones. At Vituity Family Medicine Center, we want to help you understand what kidney stones are, what causes them, how to prevent them, and what steps to take if you suspect you have one. 

Understanding Kidney Stones 

Kidney stones, also known as renal calculi, are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. They can range in size from tiny grains to larger pebbles and can cause severe pain as they pass through the urinary tract. 

Types of Kidney Stones: 

  • Calcium Stones: The most common type, often made of calcium oxalate. 
  • Struvite Stones: Can form in response to an infection. 
  • Uric Acid Stones: Common in people who don’t drink enough fluids or lose too much fluid. 
  • Cystine Stones: Rare and usually occur in people with a hereditary disorder. 

Causes of Kidney Stones 

Kidney stones can develop due to several factors: 

  • Diet: High consumption of salt, sugar, and protein. 
  • Dehydration: Inadequate fluid intake concentrates substances that form stones. 
  • Obesity: Excess body weight increases the risk. 
  • Medical Conditions: Conditions such as hyperparathyroidism or chronic urinary tract infections. 
  • Medications: Overuse of vitamin D supplements, diuretics, and other medications. 

Recognizing Symptoms 

Kidney stones typically do not cause symptoms until they move within the kidney or pass into the ureter. When this happens, you may experience: 

  • Severe pain in the side, back, and below the ribs 
  • Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin 
  • Pain during urination 
  • Pink, red, or brown urine 
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine 
  • Persistent urge to urinate 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present 

Preventing Kidney Stones 

You can take several steps to reduce your risk of developing kidney stones: 

Stay Hydrated:  Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. Staying hydrated dilutes the substances in urine that lead to stones. 

Reduce Sodium Intake: High sodium levels increase calcium in urine. Avoid processed foods, canned goods, and salty snacks. 

Limit Foods High in Oxalate: Foods like spinach, beets, nuts, chocolate, and tea can increase the risk. Balance oxalate-rich foods with calcium-rich foods to reduce risk. 

Moderate Animal Protein: Consuming too much animal protein can increase uric acid. Opt for plant-based proteins like beans and lentils. 

Increase Citrate Intake: Citrate, found in lemons and oranges, can prevent stones from forming. Drink lemonade or citrus juices. 

What to Do if You Suspect a Kidney Stone 

Seek medical attention if you experience: 

  • Intense, unrelenting pain 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Blood in your urine 
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Fever and chills 

Don’t let kidney stones disrupt your life. By following these preventative measures and staying vigilant about your health, you can enjoy a stone-free summer. For expert care and advice, contact Vituity Family Medicine Center. 

Latest Posts