Filtration systems are designed to keep particles and other substances from getting into places where they don’t belong, and are essential in ventilation, cleaning water, and even our own bodies. Your kidneys are an important part of your body’s filtration system. In addition to removing waste, they also help to make red blood cells and regulate blood pressure. These fist-sized, bean-shaped organs sit below the ribcage (and are usually lopsided), filter about 45 gallons of blood daily, and help you urinate.
So, when problems arise with your kidneys, they can do damage that affects more than your urinary system. Kidney stones are a common condition that affects these organs, and while they aren’t usually life-threatening, they can create serious conditions if you have chronic occurrences of them. Let’s look at how we can lower the incidence of recurrent kidney stones by examining what they are, their causes and symptoms, and what you can do to reduce your risk factors.
If you live in the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, or Greater South Florida area and you’re dealing with kidney stones, Drs. Craig Herman, Steven Kester, and the medical team at the Urology Center of Florida can help you find relief.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are crystalline masses that develop in your kidneys, though they can start anywhere in your urinary tract (kidney, ureter, bladder, urethra) and are made from hard deposits that vary in size. Also referred to as renal calculi, urolithiasis, or nephrolithiasis, stones frequently form in high concentrations of urine and can be very painful when you pass them through your urethra. There are several types that can develop, such as calcium, struvite, uric acid, and cystine stones. Knowing which kind of stone you have can help to diagnose what caused it.
What are their causes and symptoms?
While anyone can develop kidney stones, they are more common in white men in their 30s and 40s, and the risk of them can be affected by family history, diet (eating lots of animal meat, sodium, and sugars), liquid intake, and blockages in your urinary tract. Medical conditions that can increase your risk of kidney stones include hypercalciuria, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, cystic fibrosis, gout, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney cysts, and parathyroid disease. Medications like diuretics, calcium-based antacids, some antibiotics, and drugs to treat HIV infections and seizures can also lead to kidney stones.
As the stones develop, you may not feel anything, but over time you may feel lower side or back pain, pain when urinating, being unable to urinate, fever, chills, bad smelling or cloudy urine, the urge to urinate more frequently, and blood in your urine.
How can you reduce your risk of getting them again?
You can do some basic things to lower your chances of having chronic problems with kidney stones:
1. Eat the right things
A diet high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and low amounts of animal meat can help to reduce risks of common types of kidney stones.
2. Avoid the wrong foods
Some stones are caused by high amounts of purines in our diet, so reducing the amount of red meats, organ meats, shellfish, sugary foods, and fructose corn syrup can help to limit your chances of chronic kidney stones.
3. Follow directions for treating kidney stones
It’s bad enough to suffer through one stone, but if you don’t take your prescribed medications and follow the instructions we give you, your risk of more stones will increase.
4. Monitor water intake and sweating
Water is very important for your health and for filtering waste from your body. Drink at least 6-8 glasses a day, and if you’re highly active watch how much you’re sweating, because too much can drain you of water you need to prevent things like kidney stones.
5. Take calcium as recommended
Contrary to what some think about calcium stones, the mineral itself is not the problem. It’s the lack of calcium and the increase in sodium that causes the stones, so reduce your sodium and enjoy more things with calcium to lower risks.
6. Lose weight
This can help with many conditions, but reducing the items mentioned earlier from your diet and increasing your physical activity can reduce your risks of kidney stones.
Kidney stones can be painful, but you don’t have to keep dealing with them, and we can help. If you want to be free of the problems this condition can bring, call or message with Drs. Herman, Kester, and the Urology Center of Florida today.