WHAT CAN I DO TO DECREASE THE RISK OF KIDNEY STONES?
Kidney stones are a form of a solid buildup of minerals found in urine that develop in the kidneys. Stones are often classified by their location in the urinary tract (kidney, ureter, or bladder) as well as their composition (uric acid, calcium oxalate, etc).
Kidney stones are usually expelled through urination, and most are passed without pain or other symptoms. When stones begin to get larger, they can obstruct the urinary tract, which can lead to severe pain felt in the lower abdomen and groin. These symptoms, known as renal colic, can develop into more intense problems, such as blood or pus in the urine, pain while urinating, vomiting, and fever. This pain can last beyond the act of urination.
Kidney stones are diagnosed through urine analysis, ultrasounds, blood tests, and other methods.
If no symptoms are experienced, one can wait and examine to see if the severity of their stones is increasing. For those who
do experience symptoms, pain management is most important, using NSAIDs or other pain medications. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to remove the stone, bypass the stone, or break it into smaller pieces to lessen the discomfort when passing the smaller pieces.
Dehydration is a main cause in stone formation, as well as a high level of animal proteins, salts, sugars and sugar substitutes.
Low magnesium consumption can also cause stones to form. Though there is not conclusive evidence linking alcohol consumption
with kidney stones, alcohol can lead to dehydration, which in turn may cause kidney stones. However, potassium has been shown to lower the chances of stone development.
Calcium is a main component in kidney stones. Some studies have been shown that calcium supplements may increase the chance
for a person to develop kidney stones. Many post-menopausal women take these supplements. In a study from 2011
by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who were taking calcium and vitamin D supplements had a 17% higher incidence of kidney stones.
Kidney stones can also be caused by separate medical conditions, such as Crohn's Disease, renal acidosis (high levels of acid in kidneys), medullary sponge kidney (which blocks tubes in the kidneys), and other diseases. People who experience multiple kidney stones may have one of these root causes.
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