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If you’ve ever had kidney stones, then you know how painful they can be. Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that form inside your kidney and must be passed. They form from calcium deposits in the urine or uric acid that builds up over time. Up to 12 percent of Americans suffer from them, and if you’ve experienced a kidney stone, you are much more likely to get another than someone who has never had one.
However, there are several steps you can take to keep your kidneys healthy and functioning properly. Here is a look at some of the best ways to protect your kidneys.
- Drink enough fluids.
The best way to prevent kidney stones and keep your kidneys functioning well is to drink plenty of water. Drinking too little water results in less urine output. This means your urine will be more concentrated than normal and not as likely to dissolve urine salts. This is the most common reason for kidney stones. So, how much water should you drink? Try to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, 8 ounces each. You’ll want to pass about two liters of urine each day. If you exercise and sweat a lot, or if you have a history of kidney stones, then you will need to drink even more. Check your hydration levels by inspecting the color of your urine. Clear and pale yellow are good colors. If it is dark colored, you should drink more.
Water isn’t the only fluid that can keep your kidneys stone free. Drinking juices high in citrate helps as well, as it may prevent kidney stones from forming.
- Eat the right kinds of foods.
As is the case with most health issues, proper nutrition can make all the difference. To keep your kidneys healthy and free of problems, you need to consume the right kinds of foods. Contrary to popular belief since kidney stones are calcium based, calcium-rich foods are actually good for your kidneys. However, taking calcium supplements as apposed to getting it from your diet may increase your risk of stones.
Also, try to eat less sodium. High salt diets increase your risk of kidney stones. When too much salt gets in the urine it prevents calcium from being re-absorbed into the blood. This causes high levels of calcium in the blood, which often leads to kidney stones. Avoid processed or canned foods and use herbs instead of salt for seasoning.
Lastly, eat less high-oxalate foods like spinach, chocolate, peanuts, and coffee. Also, back off eating as much animal protein, especially if you already have a history with kidney stones.
- Don’t smoke.
It’s not secret that smoking is detrimental to your health. Aside from the more known problems like lung cancer, etc., smoking also assists in causing kidney stones. Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys, resulting in potential buildup and reducing their function. Kindey stones are bad enough, but if you smoke, you also have a 50% higher risk of getting kidney cancer.
- Check your painkillers.
If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, then you know just how painful it can be. While pain medications do not necessarily cause kidney stones, taking too many can cause harm to your kidneys. This is more common for painkillers that are mixed analgesics, like ibuprofen, caffeine and acetaminophen. It is fine to take painkillers to treat the pain that comes with kidney stones, but don’t take them for too long and never take them with alcohol. Always consult your doctor before using any painkiller, even over-the-counter types.
Treat your kidneys well and you can avoid kidney stones and kidney problems. At Northwoods Urology, we understand the importance of healthy kidneys and how they affect your quality of life. If you suffer from kidney stones and would like a professional approach, please contact us today.