Kidney Stones (also known as lithiasis or nephrolithiasis) is a disease that is characterized by the occurrence of a small, hard mineral deposits (called kidney stone) in the urinary tract. These materials are usually formed inside the kidney. Typically, kidney stones form when the urine is concentrated, thus, allowing the materials to crystallize and stick together.
This disease is a common problem with more than 200,000 cases reported in the United States of America each year. As we have seen recently in the media, there has been an increased incidence of Kidney Stones, mainly in the teen population. This has been attributed to several factors like:
- High intake of animal protein, sodium (salt) and refined sugars
- Electrolyte problems
- An underlying metabolic condition such as gout, diabetes, distal renal tubular acidosis, Dent’s disease and hypercalciuria (high calcium in the urine).
- Continuous usage of certain medications or supplements
The most important thing about Kidney Stones you should know is that they are preventable and treatable.
Kinds of Kidney Stones
There are different kinds of Kidney Stones. The major ones include:
- Calcium oxalate stones: This is the most common type of kidney stones. This stone is usually comprised of calcium and oxalate. About 90% of patients living with the Kidney Stones disease are reported to have the calcium oxalate. One unfortunate thing about the calcium oxalate stones is that they cannot be dissolved.
- Uric acid stones: Uric acid stones usually form when the urine is too acidic. However, they can be dissolved with proper treatment.
- Struvite stones: Struvite stones typically occurs when the urinary tract is infected with a special kind of bacteria which produces ammonia that builds up in the urine. This type of stones is usually composed of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Typical symptoms of Kidney Stones include:
- Flank pains that often radiate to the groin and the inner thigh
- Abnormal urine rate
- Persistent need to urinate
- Hematuria (presence of blood in the urine)
- Pain on urination
- Nausea (feeling sick) coupled with vomiting
Diagnosis and Treatment of Kidney Stones
The most important thing to do is for you to determine if you have Kidney Stones and what kind of Kidney stones you have. Answering both questions will guide your therapy.
How to Prevent Kidney Stones
- Drink lots of fluid: Increasing your total fluid intake to more than two liters per day of urine output will help you dilute the stone-forming substances in your urinary tract. These substances may include calcium, urate, phosphate and oxalate. According to a research paper presented at the National Kidney Foundation’s 2015 Spring Clinical Meetings in Dallas, people who produced 2.0 – 2.5 liters of urine daily were found to be 50 percent less prone to kidney stones than those who produced less. Apart from water, citrus beverages like lemonade and orange juice can be helpful.
- Increase your calcium intake to moderate levels: Moderate calcium intake will help you prevent the absorption of oxalate into the bloodstream by binding with the oxalate available in the gastrointestinal tract. Thus reducing the likeliness of developing kidney stones in susceptible people. To get the best results, we recommend that you go for calcium citrate supplements and between 800 – 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
- Limit your sodium intake: Taking excessive amounts of sodium supplements or salt can result in increased levels of calcium in your urine. This usually triggers kidney stones in people that are already susceptible. We recommend that you limit your sodium intake to 1,500 – 2,300 mg per day.
- Take adequate magnesium: Adequate intake of magnesium helps stimulate the production of calcitonin which takes calcium out of the blood. Magnesium also converts Vitamin D into its active form so that it can assist in calcium absorption. All these help regulate active calcium transport and prevent kidney stones. Foods like buckwheat, beans and vegetables can help you achieve the desired objective. We recommend that you take an average of 400 mg of magnesium supplements per day.
- Limit animal protein intake: It has been found that animal protein consumption is associated with recurrence of kidney stones especially in men. Foods like red meat, eggs, and seafood increase the level of uric acid resulting in kidney stones. It is therefore advisable for you to reduce your animal protein intake to a reasonable level.
We encourage you to visit a nephrologist if you have at one time or the other experienced any of the symptoms listed above, or you have a family history of the Kidney Stones disease. Here in FKP, we treat and attend to those suffering from the Kidney Stones disease. Most importantly, we have the expertise for proper care and to avoid the disease from recurring in the future.