Kidney stones are calcifications that form in the urinary tract, affecting 10-15% of the population in the United States. They are painful and potentially dangerous, increasing the risk of kidney failure and urinary tract infection leading to sepsis (a life threatening blood infection). One can decrease kidney stone formation by following a few simple guidelines:
- Hydration: Stay hydrated, but don’t overdo it. Shoot for up to eight 8 oz glasses of water per day, but no more. Excess water can alter your blood salts, or electrolytes, and be harmful. Avoid sugary drinks such as fruit and sports drinks because they affect the acid-base balance of the urine, increasing the risk of stone formation.
- Weight Loss: If you are overweight or obese, gradually lose weight. Kidney stones are more common in people who are heavier, in part because they require more fluid to stay hydrated. Don’t lose weight suddenly as this increases the risk of stone formation.
- Decrease Urine Acidity: The majority of stones form because the urine is too acidic. Adding a supplement such as calcium citrate or potassium citrate to the diet can decrease the acidity, and limiting salt and meat can be beneficial. Conversely, one should acidify his or her urine with cranberry juice if the type of stone that forms is due to an alkaline urinary environment.
Obviously, physician ordered urine studies including stone collection and analysis are important to assess what kind of stone you form, in order to provide specific preventative recommendations. If you are a member of our practice and would like further direction on the prevention of kidney stones, contact our office to set up an appointment with Dr. Samuel. If you are not a member of North Idaho Direct Primary Care and would like to find out more about our practice, click here for further reading.