Urinary tract stones, also known as kidney stones, are one of the most common diagnoses that can affect your urinary tract. In fact, kidney stones affect 1 in 11 Americans today and account for one of the top ten causes for emergency room visits.
Kidney stones have been found to affect both men and women, although men are slightly more likely to deal with kidney stones than women. Each year 10.6% of men may find themselves with a kidney stone while only 7.1% of women will.
Kidney stones also affect those of all ages, while not common in kids, we have seen both the young and old affected by kidney stones.
What Is a Kidney Stone?
We are glad you asked, most people know the general idea of what a kidney stone is, but what is it exactly?
Kidney Stones are usually made up of minerals and salts from inside your body. More often than not, they are made up of mostly calcium. These stones can affect any part of the urinary tract from the kidneys to the bladder. They form when urine becomes concentrated and allows these minerals to build up into a stone which then gets lodged in the urinary tract.
What Are Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones can be present with no symptoms at all. These kidney stones are usually small in size and can pass spontaneously, sometimes without you knowing. As kidney stones grow larger in size, however, they are more likely to present symptoms that can be quite painful.
These symptoms usually include:
- Severe intermittent pain in the flank region (depending on location of stone the pain may be lower, or radiate to the genitalia or groin)
- Presence of blood in the urine
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Passage of sand-like particles in the urine
Can Kidney Stones Be Prevented?
As kidney stones can affect pretty much anyone at any time, we often get asked if kidney stones can be prevented? These stones are something no one wants to experience as they can be extremely painful and rack up a hefty emergency room bill.
Unfortunately , there is no guaranteed way to prevent kidney stones. Especially for those with a history of kidney stones in their family. There are several diet and lifestyle changes, however, that can help reduce your chances.
The number one advice any urologist will give you in kidney stone prevention is to stay hydrated. Kidney stones appear when urine becomes too concentrated, increasing water intake is a simple way to prevent that.
Low Salt Diet
A low sodium diet will also help reduce the risk of kidney stones as salt is a big part of what makes up these stones. Eating less salt helps keep urine calcium levels lower. The lower the urine calcium, the lower the risk of developing kidney stones.
Watch your consumption of high salt foods such as lunch meat, canned foods, and condiments.
Low Animal Protein Intake
Animal protein tends to be high in acid which can in turn make your urine more acidic. Acidic urine can lead to both uric acid kidney stones and calcium oxalate kidney stones.
Low Oxalate Intake
You may be wondering, what in the world is oxalate? Oxalate is naturally found in some food and is a compound that can bind with calcium in your urine to create kidney stones. Oxalate is higher in the following foods:
- sweet potatoes
- soy products
- wheat bran
Do Not Limit Calcium Intake
We have talked a lot about the presence of calcium in kidney stones, but oddly enough, you should NOT limit your calcium intake in an effort to prevent kidney stones. Limiting your calcium intake can actually increase your risk of developing kidney stones.
How Does This Apply to You?
We know following these lifestyle and dietary guidelines can feel a bit overwhelming. If you have no history of kidney stones for yourself or within your family, we don’t suggest you spend too much time focusing on these changes unless a risk presents itself. Overall, proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is a great start to preventing kidney stones.
If you are worried or wondering about your risk of kidney stones, contact a urologist. For a consultation with experts in Urology around Springfield Ohio check out Urology Specialists of Ohio.