What causes kidney stones? Five easy ways to protect against painful kidney stones
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Kidney stones have a reputation for being excruciatingly painful in some cases. This painful condition will affect one in 11 people at some point in their lifetime. Luckily there are some really simple changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing kidney stones.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are hard objects made up of excess minerals and salts from your kidneys. They can develop in just one kidney or in both.
You can have small kidney stones, which you probably won’t even notice, that can pass in your urine.
However, large kidney stones can be extremely painful.
Kidney stones are most common in adults aged over 30.
The ‘peak age’ for finding your first stone is 45, according to the British Association of Urological Surgeons.
Kidney stones can range in size: some are as small as a grain of sand, whereas in the rarest and most serious cases they can grow to be as big as a golf ball.
There are three types of kidney stones:
- Calcium stones – these are the most common type of kidney stones
- Struvite stones – these tend to develop as a result of a urine infection
- Uric acid stones – caused by high concentrations of acid in your urine
If left untreated, kidney stones can cause kidney infections or even stop your kidney from functioning properly.
But what are the signs to watch out for?
Symptoms of kidney stones
The signs of large kidney stones are fairly unignorable.
The main symptoms of kidney stones are:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Waves of severe pain
- Nausea and vomiting
You should call your GP or phone 111 if you suspect you have kidney stones and are in pain.
It’s safe to say that no one wants kidney stones. The pain can be excruciating and it can cause serious side effects. So, what causes kidney stones and how can you prevent them?
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Causes of kidney stones
People who frequently get kidney stones tend to…
- Eat a high protein and low fibre diet
- Be inactive or bed-bound
- Have family history of kidney stones
- Have recurrent kidney or urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Have had kidney stones before
- Not urinate frequently enough
Some medicines can also increase your likelihood of developing kidney stones.
These include aspirin, antacids, diuretics, some antibiotics, some antiretroviral medicines and some medicines that treat epilepsy.
How to prevent kidney stones
Kidney stones can be incredibly unpleasant, but luckily there are some easy things you can do to reduce your chances of getting them.
Here are FIVE tips to avoid developing kidney stones
1 – Drink PLENTY of water
Every day, you should drink up to three litres of water.
Drinking lots of water is not only going to make you feel much more healthy and hydrated, but it makes you urinate more often.
Weeing more often means that you avoid getting a high concentration of chemicals which create kidney stones.
2 – Eat less salt
Eating too much salt can make it harder for your body to absorb calcium, meaning you have high levels of calcium in your urine.
The calcium in your urine can contribute to the development of kidney stones.
3 – Eat less meat
Meat contains high levels of acid and when your urine has high levels of acid it can put you at risk of developing kidney stones.
Meats to avoid include beef, poultry, fish and pork.
4 – Eat more calcium
Not eating enough calcium can put you at risk for developing kidney stones, along with other health problems like osteoporosis.
Eat more calcium-rich foods like low-fat dairy products.
5 – Stop drinking fizzy drinks
One study found people who drank one fizzy drink a day were 23 percent more likely to develop kidney stones.
Swap that can of pop for a glass of water, your kidneys will thank you!
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