How Does What You Eat and Drink Affect Kidney Stones?

Every year, it’s estimated that over half a million people in the U.S. visit the emergency room for kidney stones. Kidney stones are calcifications or crystals that form from the minerals and salts that occur in urine. They form in the hollow portions of the kidney, but stones can travel down the ureter, causing a painful blockage.  

Kidney stones are more common than you might think, with one out of ten people affected by kidney stones in their lifetime. Men have an 11% lifetime risk of developing kidney stones, while women have a 9% risk. The risk of recurring stones is approximately 50%, after the first episode. However, kidney stone development isn’t bound entirely to gender or genetics. Sometimes, what we’re eating and drinking can lead to an increased risk of developing kidney stones.  

Preventing kidney stones is most influenced by fluid intake. Dehydration causes the urine to be more concentrated, so it is easier for the salts and minerals to settle out and form stones. It is recommended to drink at least three liters (100 ounces) of fluid per day to make urine that is dilute enough to avoid stone formation. Water is the best fluid to drink to avoid stones. Anything that causes dehydration (exercise, sweating, high alcohol intake) increases the risk of stones. 

Different people produce different stones for different reasons, but there are some general dietary recommendations to lower the risk. These include lowering salt intake, lowering animal protein intake (pork, venison, beef, some seafood and shellfish) and increasing fruit and vegetable intake. Making these changes helps to keep the urine less acidic, which makes it harder for stones to form. Despite most stones being made of calcium, it is NOT recommended to decrease calcium intake.  

Common symptoms of kidney stones include:  

  • Nausea/vomiting 
  • Blood in urine 
  • An urgent sensation to urinate 
  • Intense abdominal, groin or back pain 

 Don’t let the pain of kidney stones or the fear of recurring kidney stones prevent you from doing the things you want! Arkansas Urology provides kidney stone relief to thousands of Arkansans each year, as well as evaluation for risk factors and prevention measures. 

Arkansas Urology strives to provide each and every patient with life-changing care. For more information on access, visit our FAQ section. Be sure to refer to Arkansas Urology’s glossary for terms and diseases with which you might be unfamiliar.  

Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us today or book your appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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