How to avoid or eliminate kidney stones

July 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


If you have ever had a kidney stone you know that you will do anything to avoid the incredible pain they can cause. Those most at risk have a family history of the condition and men as they get them four times as often as women. Unfortunately once you have had one attack your chances of getting another rise to around 75 percent, and the younger you are when you get the first the odds are even higher.

Kidney stones can be minute or as big as a golf ball and if it doesn’t pass out of your system then you can do permanent damage to your urinary tract. More adults are being diagnosed, and so are children as young as five or six, and the blame for the increase can be laid at the door of our modern diet – particularly an excess of salt and the fact we do not drink enough water. Other risk factors include having high blood pressure and digestive problems.

Spotting a kidney stone:

Well the pain in your side and back, just below your ribs, will give you a clue so never ignore it – though it’s severity usually means you won’t be able to. You may have pain when urinating and it can be cloudy, malodorous or bloody and you may have an ‘urgent’ bladder that demands immediate attention. Nausea and vomiting can accompany an attack or even feel cold sweat or a fever.

Kidney stones occur when the minerals and acid salts in your urine crystallize, stick together, and solidify into a mass and this happens when your urine is at the extreme of acidity or alkalinity. Happily, most stones pass within a few days without you doing anything at all, but if you have any of the above symptoms go see your doctor immediately.

How to deal with it:

Well first step is to monitor the colour of your urine. Pale is good, but the darker it is the more you need to increase your water intake. Ideally it should be a pale yellow – unless you are taking B complex supplements which can turn the urine bright yellow/orange in colour due to the B2 they contain, so this is not a reliable guide for you in that case. Next, help your body by keeping it active with regular exercise to mobilise fluids, and avoid those things that promote kidney stones; sugar, caffeine, salt, processed foods.

You also need good levels of magnesium in your diet, as it is believed to help prevent stones from forming. See the item on osteoporosis for some food suggestions. Also, don’t avoid calcium-rich foods – although calcium is what makes up the stones the calcium from foods is good for you – but not that from supplements which actually increase your risk.

Being thirsty is a warning you are dehydrated, not a signal to get a drink. You need to be ahead of your thirst, not behind it.

Global warming effect on health

We are used to hearing about the dire effects global warming will have on the environment and the knock on effect on the animal and plant life of our planet. Now it seems that another animal is being affected: the human one. Apparently, as temperatures across the U.S. increase because of global warming, there is a suggestion that the prevalence of kidney stones is expected to grow.

Researchersat the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that if the temperature overall increases by just 2.38°C, then such climate change is expected to create 1.61 to 2.25 million new cases of kidney stones by 2050. This is an increase of 7% from 2000 and would add $947 million to $1.33 billion in annual healthcare costs, according to the researchers’ calculations. This represents a 25% increase over the $5.3 billion spent in 2000.

They predict the increase would either be in a band covering the southern half of the U.S. or the upper Midwest. The maximum climate-related risk increases would be found in cities such as New York, Detroit, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Sacramento although they predict new cases would occur mostly in the Midwest and Northeast.

The south east of the US already has a 50% higher incidence of kidney stones than other parts of the country, due to regional differences in temperature. Rising temperatures are believed to be associated with a greater risk of kidney stones, perhaps because of increased dehydration, the researchers said, although the link hasn’t been proven. It also appears that when people relocate from areas of moderate temperature to areas with warmer climates, a rapid increase in stone risk has been observed and it would be interesting to track whether has also been the case with the substantial number of UK residents who have relocated to Spain and the South of France.