Nearly 10% of adults will be afflicted at some point during their lives. What’s more, men have nearly twice the risk of women of developing a kidney stone. These small, hard mineral deposits form in the kidney and are usually accompanied by severe pain – pain that generally requires fast treatment.
Being male isn’t the only risk factor, however. There are other things that can increase the likelihood of developing kidney stones, such as:
- Personal or family history of kidney stones
- Being obese
- Eating a diet that’s high in protein, sugar, or especially sodium
- Not drinking enough water
- Taking certain medications
Learn more about risk factors.
Kidney stones are formed when there’s a high concentration of crystal-like substances in the urine. Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type of kidney stones, and the name leads many people to assume that they should limit consumption of calcium. However, a diet low in calcium can actually increase the risk. Reducing the amount of oxalate-rich foods, such as spinach, French fries, nuts and soy may help some people. But rather than eliminating these nutritional powerhouses completely, the best approach is to consume calcium and oxalate-rich foods at one meal, so they can bind together in the stomach and reduce the likelihood of a stone forming in the kidneys during processing.
If a kidney stone is suspected, quick and customized treatment is needed. Depending on the size of the stone or stones, treatment can range from bed rest and medications, to minimally invasive procedures and surgery. Lithotripsy, which uses shock waves to break up stones without damaging tissue, is a common procedure to treat kidney stones. Learn more about lithotripsy.
Not all kidney stones can be prevented, but knowing your risk factors and talking to your doctor can help reduce the likelihood of getting one. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 408-866-7331 or click here to find a doctor.
This article first appeared in the June 2016 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.