Kidney Stones

Prevention

The most common prevention techniques for kidney stones involve implementing lifestyle changes. Patients are encouraged to drink plenty of water. That is, two to three quarts per day. This amount should increase during hot or dry weather. The patient’s diet should include a reduction of oxalate rich foods such as soy, sweet potatoes and nuts as well as a reduction in sodium and animal proteins. The diet may also decrease or eliminate canned soups and vegetables, processed meats like hotdogs and fast foods. Calcium-rich foods are safe, but discretion is advised with the use of calcium supplements. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe medication to prevent or reduce future occurrences. These medications will vary based on the type of stones and work by controlling the minerals and acids present in the urine.

Treatment

Many kidney stones pass on their own and require no treatment. In many cases a physician may prescribe pain medication to help alleviate discomfort associated with the passage of stones. A prescription for medication to relax the muscles of the bladder and urethra may also make the passage of stones easier. For persons with large stones, procedures such as lithrotripsy or surgery may be in order. Lithrotripsy uses strong sound waves to create vibrations that can break kidney stones into smaller pieces. Surgery to remove stones directly from the kidney is another treatment option. In cases of infection antibiotics will be included with treatment.

Recent Debates and Developments

There are no foods with a proven direct link to kidney stones. Scientists agree, however, that diet does play a crucial role in the development of stones. Increasing cases of kidney stones in children have doctors concerned. There is some debate over the cause of this recent increase, but no consensus at this time. There is also some debate over the use of calcium supplements. Many doctors recommend against use of calcium supplements by patients prone to kidney stones, while others claim that these supplements can help reduce the likelihood of stone formation.

More Information

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kidney-stones/DS00282

MedlinePlus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/kidneystones.html

Kids Health:  http://kidshealth.org/parent/dictionary/k/az-kidneystones.html

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