Helpful Hints for Those With Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hard, pebble-like pieces of material that form in one or both of your kidneys when high levels of certain minerals are in your urine.

Kidney stones vary in size and shape. They may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pea. Rarely, some kidney stones are as big as golf balls. Kidney stones may be smooth or jagged and are usually yellow or brown.

A small kidney stone may pass through your urinary tract on its own, causing little or no pain. A larger kidney stone may get stuck along the way. A kidney stone that gets stuck can block your flow of urine, causing severe pain or bleeding.

What Types of Kidney Stones Are There?

There are four main types of kidney stones. Calcium stones, including calcium oxalate stones and calcium phosphate stones, are the most common types of kidney stones. Calcium oxalate stones are more common than calcium phosphate stones. Calcium from food does not increase your chance of having calcium oxalate stones. Normally, extra calcium that is not used by your bones and muscles goes to your kidneys and is flushed out with urine. When this does not happen, the calcium stays in the kidneys and joins with other waste products to form a kidney stone.

Uric acid stones may form when your urine contains too much acid. Eating a lot of fish, shellfish, and meat—especially organ meat—may increase uric acid in urine.

Struvite stones may form after you have a UTI. They can develop suddenly and become large quickly.

Cystine stones result from a disorder called cystinuria that is passed down through families. Cystinuria causes the amino acid cystine to leak through your kidneys and into the urine.

Who Is Likely to Develop a Kidney stone?

Caucasian ethnicity and male gender are associated with higher rates of kidney stones. Men tend to develop kidney stones in their 40s through 70s; rates increase with age. Women are most likely to experience kidney stones in their 50s.

Kidney stones are on the rise; about 11 percent of men and 6 percent of women in the United States have kidney stones at least once during their lifetime. If you have a family history of kidney stones, you are more likely to develop them. You are also more likely to develop kidney stones again if you have had them once and if you do not drink enough liquids.

Symptoms & Causes

Symptoms of kidney stones can include sharp pains in your back, side, lower abdomen, or groin;  pink, red, or brown blood in your urine; a constant need to urinate; pain while urinating; the inability to urinate or can only urinate a small amount and cloudy or bad-smelling urine.

Your pain may last for a short or long time or may come and go in waves. Along with pain, you may have nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills.

However, many kidney stones are painless until they travel from the kidney, down the ureter, and into the bladder. Depending on the size of the stone, movement of the stone through the urinary tract can cause severe pain with sudden onset. People who have kidney stones often describe the pain as excruciating.

How Can I Prevent Kidney Stones?

In most cases, drinking enough liquids each day is the best way to help prevent most types of kidney stones. Drinking enough liquids keeps your urine diluted and helps flush away minerals that might form stones. Unless you have kidney problems, drinking half your body weight in ounces of water is a good idea. Remember, if you live, work, or exercise in hot weather, you may need more liquid to replace the fluid you lose through sweat.

Studies have shown that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can reduce the risk of kidney stones. Studies have also shown that being overweight increases your risk of kidney stones.

The type of kidney stone you have can affect food choices. Based on the type of kidney stone you had, you may be able to prevent kidney stones by making changes in how much sodium, animal protein, calcium, or oxalate is in the food you eat.

For example, if you have calcium oxalate stones, you will want to reduce very high oxalate foods, such as nuts and nut products, peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, and wheat bran.

Eating large amounts of animal protein may increase your chances of developing kidney stones due to uric acid buildup. Although you may need to limit how much animal protein you eat each day, you still need to make sure you get enough protein. Plant-based options are beans, dried peas, and lentils.

Even though calcium sounds like it would be the cause of calcium stones, it is not. In the right amounts, calcium can block other substances in the digestive tract that may cause stones. It may be best to get calcium from low-oxalate, plant-based foods.

Your chance of developing kidney stones increases when you eat more sodium. Sodium is in many canned, packaged, and fast foods. It is also in many condiments, seasonings, and meats. Here are some tips to reduce your sodium intake. Adults should aim to consume less than 2,300 milligrams a day. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 milligrams of sodium. If you have had calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate stones, you should follow this guideline.

Check the Nutrition Facts label found on many foods. Low in sodium is 5 percent or less, and high in sodium is 20 percent or more.

Consider writing down how much sodium you consume each day.

Cook from scratch. Processed and fast foods, canned soups and vegetables, and lunchmeats usually have high amounts of sodium.

Look for foods labeled no salt added, unsalted, and lightly salted.

Check labels for ingredients and hidden sodium, such as sodium bicarbonate (the chemical name for baking soda); baking powder, which contains sodium bicarbonate and other chemicals; disodium phosphate; monosodium glutamate or MSG; sodium alginate; sodium nitrate; or nitrite.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of illness or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at

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