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Prevent Kidney Stones - Causes, Risks, & Treatment Options

The kidneys are a pair of fist-sized organs that control the fluid levels of the body. They perform one of the most important functions necessary for good health eliminating minerals and salts through the urine.

How does the problem start?

  • A high concentration of minerals and salts in the urine.

  • Congealing of these into hard deposits or renal calculi.

  • Small stones (as small as grains of salt) may pass through urine.

  • The larger ones may not, causing pain.

  • If there are too many or large stones, or if a stone gets lodged in the urinary tract, kidney stone treatment could require surgical intervention.

Consulting one of the expert doctors at BLK Max Hospital can help treat them.

Causes and Risk factors

Kidney stones are made up of salts and minerals such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid, which can be dissolved and eliminated through urine.

When do kidney stones form?

  • Kidney Stones form when the concentration of these crystal-forming substances in the urine is high.

  • If there is a condition that prevents the urine from dissolving them.

  • Some diseases and medications can also cause this to happen.

Some of the major causes and risk factors include 

  • Dehydration Not drinking enough water causes dehydration. It is one of the most important causes for the formation of kidney stones.

  • Obesity A high BMI, obesity, and sudden weight gain are all associated with an increased risk of developing kidney stones.

  • Dietary causes A high sodium diet or a diet rich in animal protein increases your risk of kidney stone formation. Consuming a lot of oxalate-rich foods may also cause kidney stones.

  • Medical conditions - Certain medical conditions such as hyperparathyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, and renal tubular acidosis lead to an increased risk of developing kidney stones. Some surgeries like gastric bypass can also cause kidney stones.

  • Medications and supplements - Certain medicines and supplements such as calcium supplements, Vitamin C supplements, etc can increase your risk of developing kidney stones.

Your kidney stone doctors at BLK Max Hospital can help advise you about dietary and lifestyle changes needed to prevent kidney stones. Here are some of the key steps for the prevention of kidney stones.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water and staying hydrated is an easy and important way to prevent kidney stones.

Also Read: Dietary Changes You Can Make To Improve Your Kidney Health

Risks of low hydration

  • A low intake of water makes the urine more concentrated and less likely to dissolve these salts.

  • It could lead to the formation of kidney stones.

  • Citrus juices such as orange juice and lemonade are also known to prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Eat calcium and nutrition-rich food

Some of the commonly found kidney stones are calcium stones. It leads people to erroneously believe that a low calcium intake can prevent kidney stone formation.

  • A low calcium diet can increase the risk of kidney stones.

  • It can also lead to weak bones.

  • Food rich in natural calcium such as dairy milk, yogurt, cheese, etc. should be part of a kidney stones diet.

Some calcium supplements may increase the risk of kidney stones. Talk to your doctor at BLK Max Hospital and find out the recommended dose of calcium supplements, if needed.

Reduce sodium intake

A high intake of sodium, particularly in the form of salt, is considered one of the key reasons for the formation of kidney stones.

  • Salt intake inhibits the reabsorption of calcium from the urine.

  • Processed and packaged foods contain a high amount of salt and should be avoided.

  • Limit the intake of foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG or Aji-No-Moto), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and sodium nitrate (preservative).

Limit animal protein intake

People on a kidney stones diet should limit their consumption of animal protein.

  • Consumption of excess animal protein such as beef, red meat, poultry, pork, and fish can cause the urine to become highly acidic.

  • It means that the uric acid and calcium oxalate contents of the urine are higher than normal.

  • These foods also reduce the levels of urinary citrate, a chemical that inhibits or prevents stone formation.

Avoid stone-forming foods

Certain oxalate-rich foods are known to increase the risk of kidney stone formation.

  • Oxalate binds with calcium and makes it difficult to eliminate through the urine.

  • Foods like chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, tea, coffee, beets, and most nuts are rich in oxalate, and should be avoided.

If you are at high risk for kidney stones, your doctor at BLK Max Hospital may ask you to limit the intake of these foods.

Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy or Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy is a surgical procedure to remove kidney stones that are too large to pass with urine or those which are lodged in the urinary system.

The surgical process

  • In the surgery, an incision is made in the back.

  • A scope is used to remove the stones.

  • The scope is guided by x-ray imaging.

  • The surgery is usually performed under general anaesthesia when other treatment options have been ruled out.

Your doctor at BLK Max Hospital will discuss the need, risks, and precautions involved in the surgery if deemed necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q - What is a staghorn stone?

Staghorn stones are large kidney stones strongly associated with urinary tract infections. They often branch out and are treated surgically by Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy.

Q - Can kidney stones damage my kidneys?

Kidney stones can cause damage if they are large, recurrent, and associated with infections. The risk associated with your condition will be evaluated by a doctor at BLK Max Hospital and a personalized treatment plan will be drawn up.

Q - How do I manage my kidney stone along with my other health problems, such as diabetes and/or a heart disorder?

Inform your doctor of any pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart problems. The doctor will consider these when forming a treatment/surgical plan.

Q - My stone has not passed. Do I need surgery?

Most small stones pass with the urine. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and decide if the kidney stone can be treated through medication or if a surgery is needed.