Preventing Kidney Stones
Curtis Crylen is a urologist with North Colorado Urology in Greeley, Colo. He can be reached at (970)-378-1000
Question: Kidney stones run in my family. What can I do to make sure I can prevent from getting them?
Answer: One of the most common reasons patients are seen in our urology practice is because of kidney stones. Studies have suggested they affect between 10 percent to 15 percent of the U.S. population.
The vast majority of kidney stones are made up of various crystals of calcium. Crystals form into stone when urine becomes over-concentrated. Urine varies in concentration throughout the day related to how much water you drink and how much water you lose.
There are some simple things you can do to prevent the formation of kidney stones, or the growth of any stones you may already have.
The best way to keep urine relatively dilute, or less concentrated, is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Studies have shown that approximately ½ gallon, or 2 ½ liters, of water is a good amount for the prevention of kidney stones.
Diet is also important for kidney stone prevention. Most patients can avoid stone formation with some simple adjustments to their diet and adequate water intake:
- Sodium – Watch salt intake. Sodium can increase levels of calcium in the urine. Try to limit to 2-3 grams daily.
- Oxalate – Limit tea, chocolate, nuts, beets, rhubarb, potatoes, and spinach, which contain high levels of oxalate and can contribute to kidney stone formation.
- Animal Protein – Meat containing animal proteins can be a large source of uric acid. High amounts of uric acid in the urine can increase the risk for kidney stones.
Drinks that contain citric acid, or citrate, can be helpful in the prevention of kidney stones. Citrate is like a magnet for calcium in the urine, and once calcium is stuck to citrate it can be flushed out of the body without forming stones. Lemon juice and lemon-flavored beverages are good sources of citrate. Adding these to your daily fluid intake can further boost your prevention of stones.
Finally, most people that form calcium kidney stones do not need to avoid dietary calcium or supplements in modest amounts. It is important to discuss this issue, as well as any other significant dietary changes, with your urologist or primary care physician.