All things considered, it isn’t so much the size of the kidney stone as it is the size of the structures the stone is forced to traverse that cause pain. Even a stone that measures just over 5 mm (1/5 inch) can cause significant symptoms as it leaves the kidney, moves down the tube (ureter) that carries urine to the bladder, and then travels through the urethra, which expels urine from the body.
At Urology Associates of Southeastern NC, our board-certified urologists specialize in conservative and minimally invasive treatments for kidney stones. They’re also well-known in the Wilmington community for their expertise in helping prevent future occurrences of kidney stones from disrupting your life. These talented specialists have put together five steps you can take to help decrease your kidney stone risks.
1. Learn your stone type
Kidney stones contain various minerals and salts that clump together and form stones. Knowing which type you develop can help direct the preventive measures you take to lower your risk factors.
Calcium oxalate stones, for instance, are the most common type of kidney stone and may be linked to oxalate-rich foods, such as chocolate and tea. Your Southeastern NC urologist can analyze your stone content and help develop a personalized strategy for preventing future occurrences.
2. Don’t reduce your calcium
You may be tempted to drop your calcium intake when you discover that most kidney stones contain this well-known mineral. Unfortunately, doing so increases your risk of developing other concerning health issues and may even increase your risk of developing stones. Calcium-oxalate stones form in the kidneys when calcium and oxalate clump together during urine production.
Combining oxalate-rich foods, such as nuts, legumes, and spinach with calcium-rich foods and beverages during your meals causes them to bind together during the digestive process rather than in the kidneys where stones develop.
3. Step away from the salt
High sodium diets increase the amount of calcium in your urine and can trigger kidney stone formation. If you’ve had stones in the past that may be linked to high sodium levels, try to keep your daily sodium intake at 1500 mg or less.
Be sure to check beverage and food labels for sodium content since many pre-packaged foods contain significant amounts, even before you raise the saltshaker. Your heart and blood pressure will also appreciate a reduced-sodium diet.
4. Stay hydrated, and don’t forget the sweat factor
Drinking enough water to pass two liters of urine a day, about eight 8-ounce cups, dilutes the substances that lead to kidney stones. The citrate in citrus beverages such as lemonade and orange juice also helps block stone formation. If you’re sweating through your workday or exercise regimen, you may need extra water to stay well-hydrated and keep your kidneys functioning smoothly.
5. Try plants rather than animals for protein
Red meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs boost your uric acid levels, which may lead to kidney stones. High-protein diets also reduce citrate levels, which is the chemical in urine that prevents kidney stone formation. You don’t have to give up animal protein entirely; just save it for one meal, and keep the portion heart-healthy, equal to the size of a pack of playing cards.
For an effective strategy for treating and preventing kidney stones, schedule a visit at Urology Associates of Southeastern NC today. Call the office at (910) 763-6251, or request an appointment online.