Preventing those kidney stones

If kidney stones are not treated in time, they can cause irreversible damage. Dr Rajeev Bashetty says that your lifestyle and diet can play a key role in keeping them at bay.

 Many innovations have been made in treating kidney stones, but there is very little knowledge regarding the stone formation and how it can be prevented. Daily water intake an important preventive measure.

Diet is another factor that can promote or inhibit kidney stone formation. Environment, body weight and heredity factors also play a vital part.

People who have had a kidney stone should drink enough water and other fluids to produce at least two litres of urine a day. This can be achieved by drinking about three to four litres of water every day. The amount should be consumed on a periodic basis about a glass or two, every hour. People who work in hot weather need more fluids to replace the fluid they lose through sweat.

Drinking enough water helps keep urine diluted and flushes away materials that might form stones. Soft water intake is recommended. Hard water should be boiled and cooled before consumption. Citrus drinks like lemon and orange juice contain citrate, which inhibit stone formation. Fluids like grapefruit juice, colas, beer, wine, coffee and tea should be avoided in excess as they contain substances, which aid in the stone formation.

There is a misconception that eating spinach and tomatoes should be avoided to prevent stone formation. This is true only if a person consumes them on a daily basis in large quantities. Eating spinach once in a while or adding tomatoes to the daily food preparation doesn’t really harm or increase the risk of stone formation. Another misconception is that you have to avoid drinking milk as it contains  calcium. Milk will, in fact, help in reducing the stone formation. Calcium in the stomach binds to oxalate from food and keeps it from entering the blood, and then the urinary tract, where it can form stones.

People who take supplementary

calcium to maintain the bone density should take the calcium tablets along with the food. Sodium, often from salt, causes the kidneys to excrete more calcium into the urine. High concentrations of calcium in the urine combine with oxalate and phosphorus to form stones.

Reducing sodium intake is preferred to reducing calcium intake. The consumption of meat, fish and eggs should be reduced, as they contain purines, which break down into uric acid in the urine, resulting in uric acid stones. Eating excessive chocolates and nuts like cashew also should be avoided as they contain oxalate.

Once a person forms a stone, his chances of forming another stone are very high. Most of the small stones pass spontaneously, but the larger stones may require treatment. If the stones are not treated in time, there can be irreversible damage to the kidneys.

(The author is consultant urologist, Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Bengaluru)

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