At Melbourne Urology Centre, our doctors are often asked about how to prevent kidney stones. Kidney stones are a very common condition; up to one in ten people will develop kidney stones in their lifetime.
At Melbourne Urology Centre, our doctors are often asked about how to prevent kidney stones. Kidney stones are a very common condition; up to one in ten people will develop kidney stones in their lifetime. They are a more common occurrence in men than in women.
Kidney stones are hardened mineral deposits that can form inside the kidney. Kidney stones may be present for some time before they are detected. Over time they can begin to cause uncomfortable symptoms such as pain in the lower back or flank, blood in the urine, or even sweating and nausea. Some stones don’t cause obvious symptoms and are detected incidentally on a CT or X-ray.
Knowing how to prevent kidney stones naturally by taking some simple steps can help you to reduce your risk of developing this common, painful condition.
HOW TO PREVENT KIDNEY STONES: DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Most often, when we are asked how to prevent kidney stones, our first answer is “drink more water!”. Staying well-hydrated throughout the day ensures that your urine output stays high. This is important because if you do not drink enough water, your urine output will be low. This will result in high urinary concentrations of the salts that are responsible for causing kidney stones.
The best indication of your hydration status is the colour of your urine. You should aim to drink enough water to ensure that your urine is a very pale yellow colour. Your body may require 2 litres or more, depending on your age, body size, the level of physical activity that you engage in, and the type of climate that you live in.
HOW TO PREVENT KIDNEY STONES: REDUCE YOUR DIETARY SALT INTAKE
Understanding how to prevent kidney stones by reducing your dietary salt intake is important. Most of us consume diets that are higher in salt than our body requires, even without adding extra. High-salt diets have been shown to increase the risk of calcium kidney stones. It is thought that this occurs because too much sodium in the urine prevents the reabsorption of calcium from the urine back into the blood. The high urine calcium level may then lead to the formation of kidney stones.
If you consume less salt, your urine calcium level will be lower. A lower urine calcium level means a lowered risk of developing calcium kidney stones. Reading food product labels carefully (paying particular attention to the common high-salt culprits: processed foods, canned food and condiments) and avoiding foods with added salt can help you to prevent kidney stones from developing.
HOW TO PREVENT KIDNEY STONES: TRY ADDING LEMON JUICE TO YOUR WATER
Lemon juice contains citrate which may help prevent kidney stone formation. When considering how to prevent kidney stones, adding the juice of two lemons into your daily water intake may help. At the very least, it won’t hurt and it will make your water more palatable! Don’t forget to brush your teeth properly to prevent dental problems.
HOW TO PREVENT KIDNEY STONES: REDUCE YOUR INTAKE OF ANIMAL PROTEINS
Animal proteins such as red meats, poultry, eggs and seafood tend to boost the levels of uric acid, which may increase the chance of kidney stones forming. High protein diets have also been shown to reduce the level of urinary citrate. Reduce your risk by moderating your intake of animal proteins and include some plant-based protein sources.
HOW TO PREVENT KIDNEY STONES: MODIFY YOUR DIET
Depending on the composition of your kidney stones, your doctor may recommend some more specific dietary modifications when considering how to prevent further kidney stones. You should discuss any specific dietary modifications with your urologist or a dietician. Whilst most kidney stones are calcium-based, it is important not to remove calcium completely from your diet. This may lead to osteoporosis or other health problems. Most people require 2-3 serves of dairy products (or alternatives such as soy) per day for adequate calcium intake.
IF YOU’VE WONDERED ABOUT HOW TO PREVENT KIDNEY STONES, THE STEPS OUTLINED ABOVE MAY HELP TO REDUCE YOUR RISK
Our specialists often get asked a lot of questions about how to prevent kidney stones. By taking the simple steps discussed above, perhaps making some small modifications to your lifestyle, you may be able to effectively reduce your risk of developing this painful condition.
Please note that the information regarding how to prevent kidney stones, presented in the article above, is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as general medical advice. If you are experiencing any urinary symptoms or suspect that you may have kidney stones, please see your doctor and ask for a referral to Melbourne Urology Centre for an appointment with one of our specialist urologists for a correct diagnosis and individual treatment plan.