Kidney Stone Prevention
Kidney stones are often too small to cause any notable discomfort, yet those stones which cause a blockage may result in severe pain, nausea, and fever like symptoms. Kidney stones can be caused by high protein intake, or excess calcium, so bodybuilders and fitness athletes who follow a high protein diet may be more susceptible to kidney stones. So, what can we do to prevent kidney stones?
What causes kidney stones?
Men have a much greater risk than women of developing kidney stones, and those who have had kidney stones in the past few years also have a much greater risk of the problem reoccurring. Certain factors can heighten the likeliness of the kidney stones forming, and these include:
• Being male. Males are up to four times more likely of developing kidney stones than women.
• Only have one kidney.
• Have a family history of the condition.
• Have a high protein intake.
• Certain medications can heighten risk. Speak to your GP about your the potential side effects of any medication you are prescribed.
• Have a low intake of fluids.
Diagnosing and treatment of kidney stones
An examination by your GP will likely be the first step of the diagnostic. If you have the symptoms of kidney stones, which include; pain around abdomen, groin and lower back, pain when urinating, burning feeling when urinating, fever, nausea, and blood in the urine, it is important to see your GP as soon as possible. The symptoms may be caused by kidney stones, or by a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Tests for kidney stones include:
• Analysis of urine sample.
• Injection of a special dye which shows up on x-ray images to show the urinary system and any possible stones.
• Blood tests to examine levels of substances which can cause kidney stones.
Smaller stones can usually be passed by ensuring plenty of water is consumed during the day. GPs may want their patient to try to catch the kidney stones as they pass during urination, by urinating through filter paper. The kidney stones can then be analysed to try to establish the cause of its formation for future prevention and treatment.
Antibiotics and drugs to relieve the pain may be prescribed.
If the stone has not been removed naturally, a common non-surgical procedure is the extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. The kidney stones are located within the body via X-rays, and then the machine sends a shock through the body to break the kidney stones up into small pieces so they can easily pass through in the urine. A local anaesthetic is commonly administered prior to the procedure due to the discomfort and pain from the stone being broken up.
For kidney stones located in the uretar, or larger stones within the kidney, surgical procedures may be required to break up the stone(s).
Preventing kidney stones
Kidney stones can be prevented by ensuring hydration levels are optimal, and an active lifestyle is followed. The dilution of your urine can be established by its colour. Dark urine often indications a high concentration of waste products, whilst clear urine is often dilute. Six to eight glasses of water are recommended by the NHS, each day. Those who exercise should drink more fluids due to the sweat lost, with more fluid intake on warmer days. Those who have kidney stones may be directed to drink more fluids than this in order to encourage the smaller stones to pass through the urine.
Dietary intake can also be altered, although it would be recommended to talk to your GP before implementing any changes to your lifestyle.
The above information is merely a guide, and we recommend a consultation with your GP if you are worried about kidney stones, or feel you have the symptoms of kidney stones.