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Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Prevention and Reducing Risk

Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Prevention and Reducing Risk

July 12, 2023 Posted in: Health & Wellness  3 minute read time

 

Eastern Kentucky is in the middle of the stone belt. That’s not a geological reference; instead, it refers to the high rate of kidney stones we face in this part of the country.

Your genetic makeup could also predispose you to the development of kidney stones, but the weather in the South can contribute to this “stone belt” phenomenon, because people may get more dehydrated due to warmer temperatures. Our diets can also increase the risk of developing kidney stones. Consumption of dark sodas and caffeinated drinks, salty foods and a high meat intake contribute to dehydration, which can lead to the formation of stones in the urinary tract. 

Here’s why: Your kidneys filter electrolytes and minerals from the blood. But minerals can sometime leave deposits – or stones – within the kidneys and urinary tract. You know you have them, typically, when the stones move from the kidneys to the ureter, a tube that connects the kidneys and bladder. Stones can be very painful and, left untreated, can lead to infections or issues with the kidneys not working properly.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Typically, kidney stones don’t lead to permanent damage, but reoccurring stones can be a sign of other health issues. Chronic kidney disease could develop over time, which could lead to loss of kidney function and kidney failure. 

Kidney stones affect both men and women, and often begin developing in young adulthood. Once you’ve had kidney stones, you have a higher risk of developing them again. A urologist can help to determine what type of stone you developed and work with you on ways to lower your risk of reoccurrence. 

Some of the symptoms include pain in your lower back or side, nausea or vomiting with the pain, blood in the urine, pain while urinating, being unable to urinate or feel to urinate more often. Pain relievers can help, but you’ll need to pass the stone, and surgery is sometimes needed if the stone is very large.

Reduce Your Risk

To lower the risk of developing kidney stones, you should be drinking more fluids, especially in warmer temperatures or when you start to sweat. Drinking more water – lemon added to water or lemonade type products for more flavor –  in the summer months not only prevents dehydration, it can also help to reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. Summer favorites like cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon can also help because of their high water content and natural citrates, which can inhibit the formation of kidney stones. 

In addition, adding calcium to your diet can offset some of the problems that can lead to stones from even healthier foods, such as spinach and other greens because it can help to lower the acid levels in your urine and deter the formation of stones.

At CHI Saint Joseph Health, we understand how urological conditions such as incontinence, kidney stones, urinary tract infections and urologic cancers affect your quality of life. Call 859.313.2255 for provider referral assistance.

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