If you’re lucky, you’ll never get to experience a kidney stone in your life. This condition can cause immense pain in your flank and back, and may lead to other issues, including infection. While they’re not always preventable, you can take some steps to lessen your risk of developing kidney stones.
AT NY Urology, our team are experts in every part of your urinary tract, including your kidneys. If you’re at risk for kidney stones, Dr. David Shusterman and Dr. Chong-Min Kim give you the tools to keep your kidneys stone-free.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are solid masses formed out of calcium oxalate or uric acid that form in your kidneys. These stones range in size from tiny to relatively large. As long as the stones are floating around in your kidney, they normally don’t cause pain.
You could actually have a kidney stone for years without knowing it. When the stone is free-floating in your kidney, you won’t have any symptoms. The problem occurs when the stone tries to pass through your ureter and out through your urinary system.
The pain of a kidney stone occurs when the stone, or stones, attempt to exit your kidney through your ureter. Your ureter is the small tube that allows urine to move from your kidney to your bladder.
In some cases, the kidney stone may get trapped in your ureter, causing extreme pain and blood in your urine. You may also not be able to urinate, which is a problem. If this happens, you’ll need to see our team right away for surgical intervention.
Other kidney stones pass on their own within a few weeks. Drinking plenty of fluids usually helps the process along.
Knowing the symptoms
The symptoms of kidney stones vary, depending on the size of the stone and how many you have. Smaller kidney stones might not cause any symptoms at all, and pass through your urine without a problem.
However, if you have multiple stones or one large stone, you could experience a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Pain or aching in your back or side
- Blood in your urine
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain with urination
- Nausea or vomiting
- Foul smelling urine
The pain of a kidney stone may come and go, or be relatively constant. If the pain is too much to bear or you’re experiencing urinary symptoms, it’s important to see Dr. Shusterman or Dr. Kim to evaluate the severity of the stone.
Prevention tips for kidney stones
While not all kidney stones can be prevented, there are some steps you can take to lower your risk. If you have a family history of kidney stones or have other risk factors, Dr. Shusterman and Dr. Kim offer the following tips to help you avoid kidney stones:
Keeping your body hydrated is the best way to prevent kidney stones. When your urine is diluted from plenty of fluids, it’s able to break down salts in your urine that may cause stones.
Try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. You can also add in some orange juice or lemonade, as they both contain citrate, which helps prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Watch the salt
Eating a diet high in salt increases your chances of kidney stones. Too much salt in your diet affects the reabsorption of calcium from your urine. High calcium in your urine can lead to stone formation.
The less calcium that’s in your urine, the less likely you are to form a kidney stone. Read the labels of your food to keep an eye on your salt intake.
Limit oxalate-rich foods
Oxalate is an organic compound that’s found in some types of food. This compound can bind with calcium in your kidneys, causing the formation of kidney stones.
You don’t have to give up foods containing oxalate, you just need to limit them if you’re at a higher risk for kidney stones. Foods that contain oxalate include spinach, peanuts, coffee, and chocolate.
Ramp up your calcium intake
Calcium is an important mineral in your diet, especially when it comes to kidney stones. A deficient amount of calcium can actually increase your risk of the formation of stones. Make sure to eat plenty of calcium rich foods, including low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt.
It’s also important to keep an eye on your animal protein intake. Beef, poultry, and pork are very acidic, which increases the acidity of your urine. This may lead to the formation of kidney stones.
If you think you have a kidney stone, don’t hesitate to call us at 212-991-9991 today to make an appointment. You can also book on the website using our convenient scheduling tool.