Fitness Facts: Kidney stones
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
The hot weather makes it more important than ever to drink an adequate amount of water. One common condition that can be related to poor water intake is kidney stones.
Your kidneys remove waste and fluid from your blood to make urine. Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and acid salts that stick together in concentrated urine. They can be painful when passing through the urinary tract but usually do not cause permanent damage.
The most common symptom is severe pain in the side of the abdomen and nausea. Other symptoms include:
- blood in urine
- white blood cells in the urine
- reduced amount of urine excreted
- burning sensation during urination
- feeling of intense need to urinate
- fever and chills if there is an infection
Anyone can get a kidney stone, but some people are more likely than others to have them. Men get kidney stones more often than women. Kidney stones are also more common in non-Hispanic white people than in people of other ethnicities.
You also may be more likely to have kidney stones if one of these factors is present:
- You have had kidney stones before.
- Someone in your family has had kidney stones.
- History of Type 2 diabetes.
- History of gout.
- A diet that is high in animal protein and low in fruits and vegetables.
- You do not drink enough water.
- You follow a diet high in protein, sodium and/or sugar.
- You are overweight or obese.
- You have had gastric bypass surgery or another intestinal surgery.
- You have polycystic kidney disease or another cystic kidney disease.
- You have a certain condition that causes your urine to contain high levels of cystine, oxalate, uric acid or calcium.
- You have a condition that causes swelling or irritation in your bowel or your joints.
- You take certain medicines, such as diuretics (water pills) or calcium-based antacids.
- Scientists found that (Topamax), a drug commonly prescribed to treat seizures and migraine headaches, can increase the likelihood of kidney stones developing.
Kidney stones that remain inside the body can lead to many complications, including blockage of the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder, which obstructs the path that urine uses to leave the body.
Treating kidney stones is primarily focused on symptom management. Passing a stone can be very painful. If a person has a history of kidney stones, home treatment may be suitable. Individuals who have never passed a kidney stone should speak with a doctor.
If hospital treatment is needed, an individual may be rehydrated via an intravenous (IV) tube, and anti-inflammatory medication also may be administered.
Pain medicines are often used in an effort to make the pain of passing the stone tolerable. Anti-nausea medication can be used in people experiencing nausea and vomiting.
In some cases, a urologist can perform a shock wave therapy called lithotripsy. This is a treatment that breaks the kidney stone into smaller pieces and allows it to pass.
People with large stones located in regions that do not allow for lithotripsy may undergo surgical procedures, such as removal of the stone via an incision in the back or by inserting a thin tube into the urethra.
There are several things you can do to help prevent kidney stones:
- The first is drinking enough water to make the urine completely clear. A person can tell they are not consuming enough water if their urine is yellow or brown.
- Eat common foods that help decrease the risk of kidney stones: basil, celery, apples, grapes, pomegranates
- Vitamin B6 supplements and pyroxidine supplements also have been recommended as effective treatments.