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Six Simple Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Kidney Stones

If you've ever dealt with a kidney stone, you know how painful it can be. Wouldn't it be great if you could avoid them altogether?

Sometimes, getting a kidney stone is simply bad luck mixed with genetics and lifestyle factors but other times, it's completely avoidable. Understanding your specific risk factors can help you deter kidney stones in the future.

At Metro Renal Associates in Washington, D.C. and Capitol Heights, Maryland, our team of three nephrologists are experts at diagnosing and treating kidney stones. The team also helps you understand what's causing your kidney stones to help you avoid them in the future.

What causes kidney stones?

Kidney stones are small, hard particles in the kidney that form from urine waste products and chemicals. If there's not enough liquid in the kidneys, the waste products and chemicals cling together, forming crystals that continue to grow.

Sometimes, increasing water intake eliminates the crystals before they form into a larger stone. However, if you don't drink enough water regularly, you're at risk for one of the four types of kidney stones, which include:

  • Uric acid stones
  • Calcium oxalate stones
  • Struvite stones
  • Cystine stones

Calcium oxalate stones are the most prevalent type of stone affecting people. Some people may have kidney stones without knowing it, as the stones only cause symptoms when they lodge in the kidney or ureter.

Dehydration and certain types of foods increase the risk of kidney stone formation. For example, if you take calcium supplements or eat a lot of salt, you're at a higher risk for kidney stones because of the increased metabolites in your kidney.

No matter what causes kidney stones, one thing's certain – the pain is sometimes unbearable. The pain of a kidney stone happens when the stone blocks the ureter and allows urine to back up in the system.

Tips to reduce the risk of kidney stones

Genetics and lifestyle factors play a role in the development of kidney stones. Our team evaluates your health and current lifestyle factors to give you a few easy tips that can prevent kidney stones from forming in the first place:

1. Stay hydrated

Drinking too little water throughout the day allows waste products to build up in the kidneys, forming crystals that can turn into stones. Drink plenty of water daily, and more if you're active and exercising to replace fluids lost through sweat.

2. Avoid too much calcium

Eating a calcium-rich diet is crucial to your health and bones but too much artificial calcium can harm your kidneys. If you’re trying to increase your calcium focus on dietary options as calcium supplements increase the risk of kidney stones.

If you're concerned about calcium intake, talk to our team before opting for over-the-counter supplements, especially if you're at risk for kidney stones.

3. Limit high oxalate foods

Oxalate kidney stones are common and form when you eat too many foods that contain oxalate. If you're already at risk for kidney stones, avoid foods high in oxalate, including sweet potatoes, coffee, spinach, and chocolate.

You don't have to cut these foods entirely from your diet, but be aware of your intake to prevent kidney stones.

4. Cut back on salt

A high sodium diet increases your risk of kidney stones by preventing calcium from reabsorbing into the blood. It then causes high levels of calcium in the urine, which can lead to calcium oxalate stones.

Cut back on table salt with your meals and read the labels on packaged food to decrease sodium intake.

5. Watch vitamin C intake

You can eat as much vitamin C as you'd like, but watch for vitamin C supplements. Taking too much vitamin C through over-the-counter supplements may increase your risk of kidney stones, especially in men.

6. Eat moderate animal proteins

Meats such as poultry, pork, beef, and fish are acidic, increasing the urine's acid. High urine acid levels increase the chances of uric acid stones and calcium oxalate stones.

You don't need to cut out meat entirely, but you should watch your intake of animal proteins to cut the risk of kidney stones.

If you have a kidney stone, don't hesitate to call Metro Renal Associates today for an appointment or request a consultation using the online booking tool.

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