PREVENTING KIDNEY STONES
Water, Water Everywhere Te most common cause of kidney stones is not drinking enough water. To prevent stones, it is recommended that you drink around eight glasses a day, enough to keep your urine pale and odor-free. Dark, strong-smelling urine indicates dehydration, putting you at risk for stones.
A high body mass index (BMI) is another factor that you can control. Heavier people tend to be resistant to insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels) and have increased calcium in the urine, both of which can lead to kidney stones. Increasing physical activity is a way to lower body weight and has the added benefit of helping to move small stones.
Sensible diet choices can prevent stones, although your doctor or dietician can give you the best advice about this. Maintaining a correct balance of minerals in your body can be a complex task.
For instance, it might seem that lowering your calcium intake is recommended as most stones are made of calcium. However, reducing calcium often causes problems with other minerals, resulting in a higher possibility of getting stone disease. In general, a low-sodium, low- protein diet is the best way to avoid stones.
THE LOW DOWN
Points to Remember About Kidney Stones
◗ Kidney stones are made from minerals that have not
remained dissolved in your kidneys.
◗ Most stones are small enough to pass on their own, although
large stones can become stuck, causing severe pain.
◗ To help prevent and pass stones, always drink plenty of water.
◗ Sound waves, percutaneous
surgery, and ureteroscopy are treatment options for stuck stones.
◗ Men are more prone than women, and dehydration,
obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, and a family history of stones are other risk factors.
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KIDNEY STONE TREATMENT What Options Work for My Symptoms?
For small kidney stones, your doctor will write a very simple prescription: drink lots of water, as much as two to three quarts a day to help flush your urinary system.
As you wait for a stone to pass, your doctor will request that you strain your urine to see if the stone can be captured in a sieve and examined. Knowing what type of stone you have helps your doctor create a personalized prevention regimen.
If it turns out you have a uric acid stone, you might have to take potassium citrate or sodium bicarbonate. Only this type of stone responds to medication; however, medications called alpha blockers have been shown to aid the passage of small stones by relaxing the ureter.
If you present to your doctor with the painful symptoms of a stuck stone, there are a number of treatment options:
Sound Waves—In “extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy” (ESWL) your doctor will use equipment to send a sound pulse through your body that’s so strong, it can break up a large stone
into tiny bits that are then passed in your urine.
Surgery—If a stone is too large for ESWL, a surgical procedure— cal led “percutaneous nephrolithotomy”—might be necessary. This involves removing a kidney stone through a small incision in your back.
Uric acid stones respond to simple medications.
Scope—To remove a stone in your ureter, your doctor may pass a thin tube (ureteroscope) linked to a camera through your urethra (the tube through which urine passes out of your body) and bladder to your ureter. Once the stone is located, special tools can grab the stone or a laser can be used to break it up.
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