Painful Facts About Kidney Stones

It’s important to know their cause, possible preventions and available treatments

Kidney stones are tiny bits of minerals and other materials that clump together in the kidney. But usually they only cause symptoms when they get stuck in the ureter on their way to the bladder. There, as they partly or completely block urine’s flow, they cause pain that can be beyond excruciating.

Who gets kidney stones?

  • One out of ten of us will get one
  • Half of those who have a first bout will suffer another
  • About 20 percent endure repeat episodes

What predisposes people to kidney stones?

  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • A diet rich in red meat
  • Obesity
  • Gout
  • Family history of kidney stones

How are kidney stones treated?

  • Most need no treatment other than for pain; the stones will pass on their own;
  • If a stone completely blocks the flow of urine, surgery is required, but it’s usually minimally invasive.

If you’ve suffered through passing one kidney stone and want to avoid developing another, what can you do to lower your risk?

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat more plant-based foods—vegetarians are at much lower risk than meat-eaters.
  • Stay away from processed foods—the high salt content causes you to excrete more calcium (a common component of kidney stones) in your urine.
  • Cut down on sugar, which has also been implicated in promoting stone development.
  • Drink plenty of fluids—at least 2-1/2 liters per day, Water, coffee, tea, and unsweetened citrus juices are all good choices.
  • Talk to your doctor might about other dietary recommendations, which will vary depending on the composition of your kidney stone.
  • If you’ve done all of the above and still suffer bouts of kidney stone distress, your doctor might recommend medications to reduce repeat episodes. Depending on the composition of the stones, these might include potassium citrate, certain diuretics, and certain gout medications.

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Originally Published on Best Health Canada