Are Daily Habits Putting You At Risk For Kidney Stones?

Your kidneys may be small, but they are mighty. For instance, did you know that in addition to regulating your body’s fluid levels, your kidneys also help to regulate blood pressure? They also support healthy blood by filtering out waste and toxins, as well as balancing important minerals.

While there is no doubt that the impact kidneys play an important part in your overall health, they can also cause some serious soreness. That’s right; we’re talking about kidney stones. With nearly one in ten people having a kidney stone at some point in their lives, they’re likely more common than you expected.

Before you worry too much about those painful little buggers,  Hira Kohli, MD, a family medicine specialist with Gwinnett Medical Group, suggests a few easy ways to prevent them all together. But first, let’s take a closer look at what kidney stones actually are and why they form in the first place.

What exactly are kidney stones?

A kidney stone (nephrolithiasis) is a solid piece of material that forms in the kidney. It is made from substances that normally dissolve in the urine. The main substances that cause kidney stones are oxalate or phosphate.

Kidney stones begin as crystals that build up inside the kidney. Usually, these crystals will remain small enough to pass through your body without you ever knowing about them. When the crystals grow larger and become stones, they can get stuck in the ureter and block the flow of urine.

What are the common causes?

  • Fluid loss (dehydration). This can concentrate urine, causing stones to form.
  • Certain foods. Some foods contain large amounts of the chemicals that sometimes crystallize into stones. Eating foods that contain a lot of oxalate or salt can lead to more kidney stones.
  • Kidney infections. These infections foster stones by slowing urine flow or changing the acid balance of your urine.
  • Family history. If family members have had kidney stones, you’re more likely to have them, too.
  • A lack of certain substances in your urine. Some substances can help protect you from forming stones. If you don’t have enough of these in your urine, stone formation can increase.

What can you do to prevent them?

Drink plenty of fluids. This is one of the most important things you can do to prevent getting kidney stones as it helps to dilute and increase urination. More trips to the bathroom means that extra chemicals are removed from the kidneys, which lowers the chances of stones forming.

Don’t be afraid of dairy. It was once thought that foods high in calcium caused more kidney stones, but recent studies have shown otherwise. In fact, dairy products and other foods rich and calcium may help prevent kidney stones by preventing excess chemicals in the kidneys.

Ease up on the protein. Protein can increase uric acid, calcium and oxalates, all of which can make up kidney stones.

Shake off the extra salt. Salt is another chemical that must leave the body through urine. Unfortunately, the more chemicals that are in the urine, the more likely you are to form a stone.

Up your citric acid intake. While this may sound surprising, foods high in natural citric acid, like lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits can help prevent kidney stones. Citric acid can help prevent the binding of chemicals that lead to stones.

Work with your doctor. Even with healthy lifestyle changes, the best way to prevent kidney stones is to work with your doctor to better understand your unique risk factors. With the new GMC Primary Care & Specialty Center in Suwanee, you can enjoy primary care, OB/GYN, gastroenterology and cardiology services all in one convenient location.

Opening this April, come experience exceptional care with our dedicated team of providers, the latest technology and treatment options, all in a comfortable, spa-like environment.

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