Many people who suffer from kidney stones, especially small stones, don’t need surgery. Most doctors recommend staying well hydrated by drinking enough water a day—at least 8-10 glasses or 2 L.
Water can help smaller stones to pass easily via urine without medications. It also makes you less likely to develop more kidney stones because water dissolves the minerals that form the crystals.
Though water is best, you can also drink other fluids such as fruit or vegetable juices to maintain adequate hydration.
If your kidney stone does not cause significant pain and is not related to infection or obstruction of the urinary tract, your doctor may prescribe sodium bicarbonate or potassium citrate, which are alkalizing agents. For stones larger than 5 mm, a combination of alkalizing agents and tamsulosin may be prescribed to help you pass them faster.
What procedures are used to treat kidney stones?
Sometimes, a large kidney stone needs more than medical therapy. A urologist, who is a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the urinary tract, can perform procedures to remove the kidney stone or break it into small pieces for easier passage via urine:
- Shock wave lithotripsy: Shock wave lithotripsy uses shock therapy to break kidney stones into smaller pieces. These pieces pass via urine days or weeks after the procedure.
- Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy: Stones are removed using procedures called cystoscopy and ureteroscopy. Both procedures involve the insertion of a thin, flexible tube with lighted camera into the urethra to reach the bladder or ureter, both of which connect the kidneys to the bladder:
- Cystoscopy: Inserted through the bladder
- Ureteroscopy: Inserted through the ureter
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: Percutaneous nephrolithotomy involves making an incision in the back and inserting a thin, flexible tube with a lighted camera into the kidney to locate and remove the kidney stone. You may have to stay in the hospital for a few days after the procedure.
What causes kidney stones?
Although the exact cause of kidney stones is unknown, the condition occurs when substances such as uric acid, cysteine, or oxalate accumulate in the urine. Factors that can increase the risk of developing kidney stones include:
- Family history of kidney stones
- Previous history of kidney stones
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Diet high in animal protein (especially red meat)
- Diet high in salt
- Previous gastric bypass surgery
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Hyperparathyroidism (occurs when parathyroid glands create too much parathyroid hormone in the blood)
- Excess use of laxatives
- Calcium-based antacids
If you have a history of kidney stones, your doctor will take your medical history, ask about your symptoms, and plan treatment for you.
What are symptoms of kidney stones?
A kidney stone typically does not cause pain, but may cause symptoms such as:
How can you prevent kidney stones?
The National Kidney Foundation suggests producing 2-2.5 L of urine daily to reduce the chances of developing kidney stones. Aim to maintain light-colored urine by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Other measures that can help you prevent kidney stones include the following:
- Limit caffeine intake. Drinking more than 2 cups a day of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda increases your chances of dehydration and subsequent stone formation.
- Avoid eating foods high in oxalates. Foods high in oxalates include spinach, beets, rhubarbs, cashews, and almonds. These raise oxalate levels in the body and increase your risk of developing oxalate kidney stones.
- Control sodium intake. Eating a diet high in salt increases your chances of developing calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stones. If you have a history of kidney stones, do not have more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.
- Minimize animal protein intake. Keep an eye on how much animal protein you eat each day, since animal products can contribute to the development of uric acid stones. Eat plant-based proteins instead.
Latest Health and Living News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Dave CN. Nephrolithiasis. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/437096-overview
Top Best Thing to Do If You Have a Kidney Stone Related Articles
How Long Does it Take to Pass a Kidney Stone?What are kidney stones and what do they feel like? Learn the signs of kidney stones and what to do if you have kidney stone pain.
How Quickly Does Flomax Work for Kidney Stones?Flomax works rapidly within 48 hours of taking the medication. For some people, however, symptoms may take 2-4 weeks to improve.
Is Banana Good for Kidney Stones?Bananas may be a particularly helpful remedy against kidney stones, as they are rich in potassium and magnesium and low in oxalates.
Kidney Stone PictureA stone in the kidney (or lower down in the urinary tract). See a picture of Kidney Stone and learn more about the health topic.
Kidney Stone SlideshowWhat causes kidney stones? Where is kidney stone pain located on your body? Learn the symptoms and signs of kidney stone pain. Explore kidney stone treatment and how to prevent kidney stones.
Ways to Keep Your Kidneys HealthyYou might know that more than a drink or two a day is bad for your health. But in some cases, any alcohol at all may not be a great idea.
What Dissolves Kidney Stones Fast?One of the best and easiest ways to prevent kidney stones is to drink plenty of water. Generally, health experts recommend drinking about 12 glasses per day to help flush stones out of the urinary system. Sipping water throughout the day will help people stay hydrated and reduce their risk of kidney stone formation.
What Should You Not Eat With Kidney Stones?Here are the foods you should avoid when you have kidney stones, which include salt-rich foods, oxalate-rich foods, fatty foods, and more than 3-ounces of meat daily.
Which Method Is Best to Remove Kidney Stones?Retrograde intrarenal surgery (RIRS) is the best procedure for removing kidney stones and consists of the following steps.