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Your Guide to Kidney Stones

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Your Guide to Kidney Stones

Kidney stones. This is a medical condition that is similar to having a root canal. You may have never had either but have heard enough about them that you know you’d prefer not to. According to some studies, this may be possible. To know how to reduce your risk of getting kidney stones, it helps to know why they form in the first place.

The kidneys are the body’s filtration system. The organs are very small but they fill some very important roles. When blood passes through the kidneys, wastes are removed and excreted through the urine. This happens best when there is sufficient fluid in the blood. Where does that fluid come from? The general state of hydration. Those recommendations to drink 8 glasses of water a day aren’t for nothing.

What Makes Kidney Stones?

When the kidneys cannot adequately filter wastes, some of them clump together. There are a few common substances that have been found to crystalize into kidney stones. The common types of stones include:

  • Calcium oxalate
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Uric acid
  • Struvite, a mixture of ammonium, magnesium, and phosphate
  • Cystine kidney stones are related to a genetic disorder and are quite rare.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Some kidney stones are so small that they are never detected; they pass without symptoms. When we see symptoms is usually when a person has a stone that is too large to pass easily through the urinary tract. When a larger stone is trying to pass, a person may experience:

  • An ache or intense pain in the lower abdomen or back
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficult urination
  • Fever

If kidney stone symptoms occur, medical care may be necessary. A urologist can perform diagnostic tests to measure stones and determine if they need to be broken up to help particles pass.

Tips for Preventing Kidney Stones

Misunderstandings about kidney stones can lead people to make unnecessary dietary changes. To reduce the risk of kidney stones, experts recommend:

  • Continue eating calcium-rich foods. However, eat them with foods that contain oxalates. Examples include consuming cheese with vegetables or legumes.
  • Stay hydrated! People who sauna or work out intensely need to be particularly mindful about replenishing after sweating.
  • Reduce sugar and salt intake.
  • Limit consumption of red meat, organ meat, and shellfish, all of which are high in purine. Purine increases the production of uric acid.
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