The best treatment for kidney stones is to avoid getting them in the first place. If you’ve had a kidney stone in the past, you are likely to form another. That’s why prevention is important. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says the therapy your health care provider gives you will depend on the type of stone you have.
For example, a medicine that helps prevent calcium stones will not work if you have a struvite stone, which is caused by an infection and made of magnesium ammonium phosphate. The diet changes that help prevent uric acid stones may have no effect on calcium stones. So careful analysis of the stone will help guide your treatment.
100 ounces of prevention
The most important part of prevention is getting plenty of fluids. This dilutes your urine and increases urination. More trips to the bathroom help remove extra chemicals from the urine and kidneys. This lowers the chances of stone formation.
Kidney experts recommend that you drink at least 100 ounces of fluid every day. Their drink of choice? Water. Water is available to everyone and is inexpensive.
People who form kidney stones were once told to stay away from dairy products and other foods that contained a lot of calcium. Recent studies have shown that foods high in calcium actually help prevent stones, according to the NIDDK. But calcium supplements might increase the risk of developing stones.
Eat less protein
For some people, eating less protein, especially protein from meat, might help prevent stones. Protein can increase uric acid, calcium, and oxalates in the urine. Protein also reduces citrate.
If you are at risk for uric acid stones, you might be helped by eating fewer foods that contain purines. These foods include sardines, yeast and organ meats.
If you who absorb a lot of oxalate, you should not drink large amounts of tea, because it has a lot of oxalate. You should also drink less or no alcohol. Other foods to pass up include chocolate, beets, coffee, cola, nuts, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries and wheat bran.
Other ways to prevent kidney stones
Your health care provider may prescribe medicine to help prevent kidney stones. The medicines control the amount of substances in the urine that form crystals or prevent the infections that can lead to stone growth.
You should also limit how much salt (sodium) you get each day. Salt is another chemical that must leave the body through the urine. The more chemicals that are in the urine, the more likely you are to form a stone.
If you are overweight, losing weight may help.
Are you at risk?
Things that may increase your chance of developing kidney stones are:
• A family history of stone formation
• An inherited condition that causes the body to absorb too much calcium
• A low level of citrate in the urine. This may help calcium stones form.
• Overactive parathyroid glands
• Urinary tract infections
• Bowel disease
• High blood pressure