Q.A few months ago, I had a kidney stone that was exceedingly painful. What can I do to prevent getting another one?
A. Every year, more than a million people in the United States are hospitalized for the treatment of kidney stones. The experience can be excruciating; many who suffer from the condition have likened the pain of passing a kidney stone to that of giving birth, or worse.
There are certain medical conditions and genetic factors which can put some people at greater risk for kidney stones. Others may form kidney stones because of their diet and fluid intake. In many situations, dietary and lifestyle changes can make a difference in whether or not you develop kidney stones.
The single most important thing you can do to prevent kidney stones is to drink plenty of water — enough to urinate at least two liters per day. When you perspire a lot, be sure to replace lost fluids. Kidney stones can result from an imbalance between the amount of waste products your kidneys are trying to eliminate and the quantity of fluid available to wash them out. If you become dehydrated, compounds in your urine will be more likely to form stones. Keep yourself well hydrated, but remember that certain fluids, such as coffee and other caffeinated drinks, have a tendency to dehydrate you.
Rapid weight loss can increase your risk of developing kidney stones. If you fast, you can easily put your body into a state of ketosis, a condition in which you are burning fat for energy. Ketosis makes your urine more acidic which can lead to increased kidney stone formation. High-protein diets can also increase the acidity of your urine and increase your likelihood of developing kidney stones.
The most common type of kidney stone is a calcium oxalate stone. People who tend to form calcium oxalate stones can benefit tremendously from limiting their ingestion of foods high in oxalates. These include leafy greens, rhubarb, chocolate, tea, okra, nuts, beans, beets, wheat bran and strawberries. It should also be noted that an excess of vitamin C can be converted into oxalates.
To further reduce your chances of experiencing kidney stones, I recommend that you go easy on the salt shaker. The more salt you ingest, the more you will increase the amount of calcium in your urine, which can add to your risk of developing kidney stones.
Article was originally printed in the Honolulu Advertiser, honoluluadvertiser.com