An Expert Shares The Best Ways To Prevent Kidney Stones

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Kidney stones are painful. If you’ve had one in the past, you’re probably anxious to do whatever you can to prevent another one. But unless you make some changes, there are good odds you will form another stone at some point. And recurring kidney stones can increase your long-term risk of kidney disease.

“About 50% of people who’ve had a kidney stone will make another one within 10 years,” says Joseph Haddad, M.D., a urologist at Henry Ford Health. “But if you make dietary changes and take steps to mitigate other risks, you’re much less likely to form new kidney stones.”

Why Do Kidney Stones Form?

There are many different types of kidney stones, but by far the most common are calcium-based stones. “Those account for at least 80% of kidney stones in both men and women,” says Dr. Haddad.

Calcium-based stones form when calcium binds to oxalate (a substance found in plants) in the urinary tract. When you have high concentrations of those two minerals in your urine, they crystalize and form kidney stones. Your doctor can test your urine to measure those levels. Reducing oxalate levels — if necessary — can help you avoid forming new stones.

Factors That Increase Your Risk Of Kidney Stones

Obesity, diabetes and genetics all play a role in increasing your risk of kidney stones. Keeping your blood sugar in check and working to achieve a healthy weight can decrease your risk of recurring stones.

Dehydration is the number one cause of kidney stones. Occupations and environments that expose you to excessive heat can leave you dehydrated and increase kidney stone formation. People who work outdoors in very hot climates or indoors, such as in a hot restaurant kitchen, are more likely to suffer from dehydration and more likely to form stones.

Steps For Preventing Kidney Stones

No one wants to form a kidney stone. Luckily, you can control many kidney stone causes. Adjusting your diet is the best way to reduce risk of stones.

The most important dietary changes to help prevent kidney stones include:

  • Stay hydrated: “Drinking more water helps to dilute calcium and oxalate in the urine,” says Dr. Haddad. “If you’re not making enough urine, it increases your risk of kidney stones.” He recommends drinking enough to make 2.5 liters of urine per day. If you don’t want to measure it, just be sure you’re drinking enough that you go to the bathroom once every hour.
  • Cut back on salt intake: Taking in too much sodium increases the amount of calcium that ends up in your urine — increasing your risk of stones. Try to stick to a low-salt diet that includes less than 3 grams of sodium per day.
  • Limit foods high in oxalate: Some healthy foods — like kale and spinach — are very high in oxalate. If you are prone to kidney stones, you should limit how much oxalate-rich food you eat.
  • Avoid high-protein diets: We all need protein to stay healthy and keep muscles strong, but too much protein can increase your risk of developing kidney stones. Dr. Haddad recommends limiting your protein to less than 100 grams per day.

To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

Dr. Joseph Haddad is a board-certified urologist who sees patients at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and Henry Ford Medical Center – Lakeside.

Categories: FeelWell