Those who ever had an experience of kidney stone pain will probably never forget it for the lifetime. In medical books kidney stone pain is described as ‘tossing in the bed.’
It can be so excrutiating that patient may seek emergency room.
Although kidney stones may remain silent for long time and do pass on their own without causing any major damage, if you dont take proper precautions it may occur again.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are crystals of minerals, mainly calcium and oxalate, that are formed along the path of urine.
In some patients crystals of calcium in combination with oxalate, phosphate, uric acid or cystein may be formed when they are concentrated in urine.
Sometimes stone can be large enough to block the urinary tubes to cause pain and damage due to blockage and irritation.
Patient can have pain in the abdomen and flanks which may spread to groin and thigh.
Other symptoms includes burning urination, blood in urine, vomiting.
Fever and chills occur when infection in urinary path.
Why is knowing which type of kidney stone a person has important?
Not all the kidney stones are same. Though most common types is stones made up of calcium and oxalates
There are Four major types of kidney stones.
1.calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate
2. Uric acid stones
3. Struvite stones
4. Cystine stones
It is helpful to know which type of stone patient had because the advice about what to eat is slightly different for each type of stones.
Who are at risk of kidney stones?
Not all people develop kidney stones there are some risk factors which contributes to stone formation.
1. Drinking less water
The number one risk factor for kidney stones is not drinking enough water. It makes urine concentrated which favours kidney stone formation. Main function of kidney is to excret various wastes, if body has less water then these wastes cannot be dissolved in urine, when too much of wastes in too little liquid, then formation of stones start. If less water then less urine and the crystals aggregate and form larger stone.
2. Low Calcium in the body
Yes its true, we think that eating more calcium produces stones but recent research shows calcium binds to oxalates to in digestive tract so oxalate cannot enter into blood and urinary path where they may form kidney stones.
Important to know that im talking about natural calcium from our food NOT calcium supplements in tablet or syrup form. Calcium supplement increases chances of kidney stones.
3. Eating more oxalates
Some leafy vegetables such as spinach and others like nuts and seeds, grains, legumes, chocolate and tea, peanuts, beets and sweet potatoes are rich in oxalates which are the main culprit for stone formation if taken in excess. When ingested in large quantity they may concentrate in urinary tract and form stones.
4. Excessive processed salts in diet.
Processed salts contain high quantity of sodium. When sodium is high in the body more calcium is excreted through urine. So indirectly it poses more chances for stone formation. There are many sources of hidden sodium such as canned or commercially processed foods as well as restaurant prepared and fast foods.
5. Less citrus in the body
Citrus fruits such as lemon, lime lower the chances of stone formation. So eating less citrus increases chances of stones.
6. Deficiency of magnesium
For absorption and assimilation of calcium important role is played by magnesium. If calcium is ingested without adequate magnesium then overloaded calcium becomes harmful and predisposes to kidney stone formation. Magnesium is present in green leafy vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts.
7. Drinking soda
The possible reason for this is phosphorus acid presnt in the soda makes urine acidic that helps in stone formation, also sugar (fructose) present in it interfers with calcium and magnesium absorption thus increases chances of stone formation.
8. Heriditory causes
People who have strong family history of kidney stones have more chances to have it. Cause of this can be the oxalate absorption problem which can run in family.
9. Laxative overuse
When laxatives are used for longtime it interferes with the absorption of minerals and also causes dehydration, thus concentrating urine and making favourable conditions for stone formation.
Obese persons are at higher risk of kidney stones. Excessive fat in the body leads to changes in the urinary path and acidify urine thus trigerring the stone formation in urinary tract.
11. Surgery for obesity
Though obesity increases kidney stone risk, weight loss surgery that alters digestive tract and increases the chances to have stones in kidney.
12. Vitamin B6 deficiency
Studies say that vitamine B6 deficiency is a risk factor for stone formation. 1.3milligrams of vitamin B6 is recommended.
The richest sources of this vitamin include fish, liver, potatoes and starchy vegetables, and non-citrus fruits.
13. Lack of exercise
Immobility bone resoption causing excessive calcium which increases the risk for developing kidney stones especialy in women who have achieved menopause.
14. Being male
Men are more risk of developing kidney stones.
Caucasians have the higher stone rates as compared to other races
People living in hot and dry environments have more chances for stones. Don’t Underestimate Sweat. More is the sweating, the less will be the urine, which allows for stone forming minerals to settle and bond in the kidneys and urinary tract.
17. Seasonal variation
It is obvious that Stone development is more common during the summer months due to dehydration from higher temperatures and possibly also from higher concentrations of calcium in urine resulting from increased sun exposure which can lead to higher levels of Vit D production.
People who work in hot atmosphere and those who are prone for dehydration suffers more.
19. Kidney diseases
Individuals with a diseases like medullary sponge kidney or renal tubular acidosis are prone to forming stones.
20. Urinary tract Infections
Long standing urinary tract infections can lead to the development of infection related stones such as struvite stones (a type of kidney stone).
Once passing a kidney stone doesnot mean that it will never form again. Studies have shown that having even one stone greatly increases your chances of having another.
How Can kidney stone be prevented?
Though kidney stones can be excruciatingly painful in some patients, fortunately, there are plenty of precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk…
Life style modification and some basic dietary changes reduces the risk to great extent. While these changes may not guarantee for stone formation but they can make it less likely.
1. Drinking plenty of water and other fluids
This is the most important thing a patient can do to lower the risk of getting another kidney stone.
Aim for at least 2 ½ – 3 litres of fluid each day.
If you are not used to drink this much fluid, increase it gradually.
Avoid sugary drinks, fruit juices, tea and coffee as they may increase the risk of kidney stones.
To increase the water intake try these tips:
Always Carry a water bottle and drink it as and when possible. Add some lemon or lime to water so that it gives refreshing flavour.
Drink water before going to sleep and after getting up or if wake up during night time.
Stay hydrated especially when doing exercise or when doing some activities which causes more sweating.
It is important to have adequate water intake. As every person has different water requirment a simple method is to checkcolor of urine, if it is dark in color then your water intake is not adequate. Aim should be to have pale yellow or whitish.
People who have had cystine stones may need to drink even more as compared to other types of stones.
2.one smart way is to drink orange juice and lemonade, which are high in citric acid and which can be helpful. So both water and citrus is covered in it.
3.making some dietery changes such as decreasing intake of salt, animal proteins and calcium supplementation may help prevent future stone formation.
A)Calcium is not the enemy. Eat calcium and oxalate rich food together maitaing balance. Both calcium and oxalate will bind each other and there should not be excess of any thus making stone formation less likely. Milk and milk products are rich in calcium.
But Be Careful with calcium Supplements.
B)Limiting animal proteins like meat, fish, poultry and eggs will help for these patients.
Protein in the body breaks to form purine. High purine leads to a higher production of uric acid which then accumulates as crystals in the joints causing gout, or as stones in the kidneys.
To prevent uric acid stones, cut down animal proteins.
Alcohol may also increase uric acid level in the blood.
C) Limit salt (sodium) intake
As explained earlier reducing the sodium intake especially in fast food and ‘hidden’ sodium in preservatives and other compounds as a part of preservatives can greatly help in reduction of stone formation
D)Cut back soda intake
Those who take regular soda its good idea for then to limit its consumption.
E)Make sure to get enough magnesium
Vegetable juice is an excellent source of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts like almonds, and seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc are also good source of magnesium.
F)Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
3.Regular exercise, avoiding Overeating are important for keeping weight in check also being physically fit there is less chances of bone resoption.
4. Visit doctor if you develop severe pain in the side, back or lower abdomen, blood in urine or have difficulty urinating. Prompt diagnosis and assessment are keys to preventing complications.
5. Maintain healthy weight. As obesity is one of the risk factor for kidney stones maintaining normal weight is essential aspect.
If the size of stone is small it can easily pass down through the urinary tract without causing much problem but if it is large enough intervention is required to prevent harmful effects.
Available treatment options for stones are
Medication to facilitate its easy passage.
Non surgical methods for removal of stones.
Surgery to treat or remove the stone.
Disclaimer: The topics in these pages including text, graphics, videos and other material contained are for informational purposes only and not to be substituted for professional medical advice. As the results may vary from patient to patient your doctor is best person to treat you.