A kidney stone isn’t usually a long-term threat to your health, but you never want one. These pebble-like masses range in size from small grains to stones as large as a golf ball. The problem is that these stones must pass through your urinary tract and when jagged or large, they can get stuck and cause incredible pain and bleeding along the way.
Every year, more than a half million people visit the emergency room due to the pain and complications associated with passing a kidney stone. And, if you’ve had one — you have a 50% chance of developing another and experiencing the same pain.
At Buschemeyer Urology, W. Cooper Buschemeyer III, MD, can remove kidney stones, if needed, or make passage easier. But, the best treatment for kidney stones is to prevent their development in the first place. Here’s some lifestyle measures you can take to avoid developing kidney stones and the pain associated with them.
When you have an excessive concentration of specific chemicals in your urine, crystals form. These crystals clump together to form kidney stones, which then make their way through your urinary tract. The chemicals associated with stones include uric acid, a byproduct of protein metabolism, and calcium combined with oxalate.
If you’re prone to kidney stones, you’ll benefit from the following lifestyle strategies:
When you’re fully hydrated, you dilute the chemicals in your urine that lead to the development of stones. Aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day — that’s eight 8-ounce glasses. Acidic juices, like lemonade and orange juice, count toward your fluid intake and have the added bonus of including citrate, a compound that can block kidney stone development.
When you consume a high amount of sodium, it increases the calcium in your urine. If you’re prone to kidney stones, Dr. Buschemeyer recommends a low-sodium diet that consists of no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. It’s even better to limit sodium to 1,500 milligrams per day, especially if you’ve had kidney stones in the past. Highly processed foods, like canned goods, cold cuts, and packaged snacks, tend to be high in sodium as do many restaurant foods.
Calcium combines with oxalate in your intestines, which eventually leads to a lower concentration of this compound in your bloodstream. Because oxalate can bind with urinary calcium to cause kidney stones, you want these lower oxalate levels. Calcium-containing foods include dairy foods, fortified juices and alternative milks, leafy greens, and canned salmon or sardines.
Consuming animal proteins, like red meat, chicken, eggs, and fish, increase the amount of uric acid in your kidneys. Uric acid can lead to the development of kidney stones. You don’t have to give up meat altogether, but limit how much you eat. Consume a serving about the size of a deck of cards at meals and load up the rest of your plate with plant-based foods and whole grains. You may even consider eating a few plant-based meals a week.
If you’ve had kidney stones in the past, Dr. Buschemeyer recommends you greatly limit certain foods that have high amounts of oxalate. These foods include chocolate, beets, tea, most nuts, and spinach.
If you are concerned that you have kidney stones or have another urological concern, call one of the offices of Buschemeyer Urology today to set up an appointment. You can also use this website to set up an appointment at the The Woodlands, Conroe, or Willis, Texas offices.