KIDNEY STONES

Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH

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Kidney stones are more common among males, and usually strikes in the third decade of life.

CAUSES

One of the studies revealed that the higher the calcium level excreted in the urine the higher the risk of stone formation. It means that kidney stones are associated with consumption of milk and dairy products, calcium carbonate supplements and drinking high in calcium carbonate hard water.

As expected dehydration (lack of water in the body) is another cause of kidney stones. According to Dr Agatha Thrash, “Seasonal variation occurs in the number of causes of urinary stones; the highest incidence being in the hot, dry months of the year when the fluid part of the urine is lowest in relation to the solid parts such as calcium. The Southeastern states report the highest incidence, probably reflecting the longer periods of warm weather. New England reports the second highest incidence.”

People in developed countries consume about two or free times more protein than they really need and unfortunately the majority of it comes not from plant but animal sources (meat and dairy). Some research has shown a link between kidney stones and diets high in animal protein. If the majority of your meals contain a source of meat (for example, chicken, turkey, eggs, beef, seafood, pork, or dairy foods), then the recommendation would be to cut back on the quantity and/or frequency that these are consumed.

Other factors and products that may contribute to kidney stones include: alcohol, coffee, sugar, medication and oxalate-rich foods (chocolate, coffee, cola, potato chips, rhubarb, spinach, black tea). It is important to know that spinach or rhubarb may contribute to kidney stones only when they are consumed after being cooked.

Also sodium found in salt can cause problems by increasing the amount of calcium excreted in urine, which in turn increases the risk of another kidney stone developing.

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SYMPTOMS

If the stone does not obstruct urinary tract and flow it may not produce symptoms at all and the first indication of urinary stone may be the expulsion of the stone though the urethra.

You may feel extreme pain as the stone works its way down the urethra (the tube that leads from the kidney to the bladder). As a result of this process you may see blood in your urine.

Onset of the pain is generally sudden and so severe it is difficult for the patient to say where it is most intense. It may radiate down from the back of the waist into the groin, sometimes extending into the external genitalia and thigh. The pain may be accompanied by decreased urine output, bloody or cloudy urine and painful, frequent, or difficult urination. Other symptoms may include nausea with repeated vomiting, rapid heart rate, or elevated blood pressure.

COMPOSITION OF KIDNEY STONES

Most kidney stones are calcium stones (approximately four out of five kidney stones are calcium stones), usually in the form of calcium oxalate or calcium oxalate combined with calcium phosphate.

Uric acid stones develop when urine is too acidic. A diet rich in purines can increase urine’s acidic level. Purine is a colourless substance in animal proteins, such as fish, shellfish, and meats.

In case of reoccurring stones it is wise to analyse them in order to find out their composition. You may ask your doctor to perform the blood and urine tests as well to check the urine volume, as well as the acidity, calcium, oxalate, sodium, citrate, creatinine, and uric acid content. It will help to find out what actually caused the stone and will make preventing much easier.

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TREATMENT

About half of all stones formed will pass spontaneously, the larger ones require either proper nutritional treatment, supplements and herbal remedies or surgical removal.

Apart from avoiding the mentioned above causes the following remedies are often effective in dissolving kidney stones:

Magnesium citrate and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) help to reduce and dissolve calcium phosphate kidney stones. Take 2 tablets of MagCitra (HealthAid) 1-3 hours before bed and vitamin B-complex (which includes B6 -100mg) or Vitamin B6 alone after breakfast.

– Take Uriprinol (HealthAid) to eliminate uric acid.

– Herb called Quebra Pedra (Phyllanthus niruri) is one of the best herbal remedies to remove kidney stones. Quebra pedra called also by some a “stone breaker” was used by Brazilians to get rid of kidney stones. A study conducted in Brazil by the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo, found that a liquid extract of Quebra Pedra was effective in preventing dissolving calcium oxalate crystals. The herb did not induce any side effects even when it was used in high doses. The herb can also help you expel stones due to its antispasmodic effect which helps prevent muscle spasms and relaxes the smooth muscle within the urinary tract making it easier to pass the stones.

– Drinking plenty of distilled (free from inorganic calcium) water is the best treatment for kidney stones as it prevents the urine from becoming concentrated and encouraging stone formation. Patients should drink enough water to produce two to three quarts of urine daily. One quart of water should be taken during the night to maintain good urine flow at all times.

– Use a low calcium diet, eliminating milk and all foods containing milk (cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.), fish, chocolate, cocoa, antacids, etc.

– A study of 88 participants discovered that supplementation with Omega-3 known as Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can help prevent the formation of kidney stones.

– Daily vigorous outdoor exercise increases circulation to the urinary system. Stone formation is far more common in sedentary people. Lack of exercise may impair kidney drainage or alter calcium metabolism, producing skeletal decalcification and subsequent excretion of the extra calcium in the urine.

– Over nutrition may be a contributing factor in urinary stone formation. Use only two simple meals a day, the diet consisting principally of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. At least one study suggests that a high intake of fruits and vegetables may actually protect against kidney stones. Avoid refined carbohydrates, high protein foods, vitamin and mineral supplements, and concentrated foods.

– High intake of animal protein has been suggested as a factor favoring production of urinary stones. As much as possible, eliminate all high protein animal products (eggs, meats, cheese, etc.). Excessive dietary protein causes increased absorption as well as increased excretion of calcium. The most important thing is to reduce meat and dairy consumption as vegetarians and vegans have much lower kidney stone risk. According to the reasearch animal proteins are bad because of hypercalciuria, hyperuricosuria, hyperoxaluria, hypocitraturia, and the acidification of the urine.

– You should also reduce refined salt (you can use Celtic salt instead), and the more fruits and vegetables the better as they have a high water, magnesium, and potassium  content; a low sodium chloride content; and a high urine alkalinization power because of the presence of bicarbonate and citrate.

– Bear in mind that a diet low in free fats will promote good blood circulation. Since a high sugar intake has been implicated as contributing to urinary stone formation, it is well to choose a diet low in or devoid of free sugars.

– Urinary stones are sometimes associated with gout. Persons with high uric acid levels should avoid foods high in oxalates. These include Ovaltine, cocoa, chocolate, coffee, and tea.

– To reduce pain caused by kidney stone use hot compress.

© 2016 Slawomir Gromadzki – All Rights Reserved

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