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Kidney Stones: What You Need to Know

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A kidney stone is a solid mineral deposit comprised of mineral and acid salts that forms in your kidney. It can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pea. While most kidney stones pass from the body on their own, others will not go away without medical intervention. And when they lay dormant in your body, kidney stones can get lodged in the urinary tract, blocking urine flow and causing extreme pain.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible:

  • Persistent and severe back or side pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in urine
  • Burning sensation when urinating

The good news is kidney stones can be prevented by taking measures to improve your lifestyle. To protect against developing kidney stones, consider the following:

  • Drink water all day. Patients with a history of kidney stones are advised to drink water throughout the day in order to produce about 2.5 quarts of urine a day. When you think about your water intake, consider the climate you live in (hotter climates require more hydration) and the color of your urine. If it’s clear, you’re getting enough water. If it’s dark yellow, it’s time to increase your intake.
  • Reduce salt.Salt intake increases the amount of urinary protein, which contributes greatly to the development of kidney disease. Reduce the amount of salt you incorporate into your diet or consider a salt substitute to protect against the onset of kidney stones.
  • Avoid oxalates. An oxalate is a naturally occurring molecule found in plants and humans. Eating too many oxalate-rich foods can lead to kidney stones. For better outcomes, steer clear of beets, okra, spinach, sweet potatoes, nuts, chocolate, soy products and tea.
  • Think calcium (in moderation.) Eating calcium-rich foods doesn’t affect the onset of kidney stones, so you can enjoy foods containing calcium without concern. However, if you’re taking calcium supplements, talk to your doctor, as these have been known to up the risk of kidney stones.
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