Kidney Stones: Everything You Need to Know About This Common Medical Condition

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Statistics show that between 5% and 10% of all adults will develop at least one kidney stone by age 70, with men having a slightly higher than risk than women. If you’ve been diagnosed with a kidney stone — also known as urolithiasis or kidney stone disease — you might be wondering what causes this condition and how it’s treated.


What Are Kidney Stones?

A kidney stone is a hardened mass that forms in the kidneys. Of course, the kidneys are responsible for filtering waste from blood. As blood travels through the kidneys, the bean-shaped organs remove waste and pass this waste into the urinary tract, from which is expelled as urine. In some people, however, hardened masses can form in the kidneys. Known as a kidney stone, the hardened mass is oftentimes painful, and in some cases, poses a serious risk of urinary blockage.


How Big Are Kidney Stones?

The size of kidney stones varies, though most are quite small with a diameter of just 1 to 5 millimeters. As a result, they are typically expelled in urine. But some people develop larger kidney stones. If a kidney stone is larger than 5 millimeters, it can create a blockage in your urinary tract, preventing you from expelling it. For cases such as this, professional medical attention is recommended.


Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones

The most common symptom of kidney stones is pain originating in the pelvis. It may feel like a sharp, stinging pain that originates in your pelvis and radiates down to your thighs. In severe cases, kidney stones may cause other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating and fatigue. Symptoms typically subside, however, after the kidney stone has been passed or removed.


The 2 Types of Kidney Stones

According to the American Kidney Fund, there are two primary types of kidney stones:

  1. Calcium: The most common type, calcium kidney stones are composed of calcium. Calcium kidney stones form when there’s too much calcium in the blood. As the kidneys filter the blood, they’ll remove some of the calcium, allowing the formation of a hardened mass.
  2. Uric Acid: While less common, millions of people have experienced kidney stones composed of uric acid. While calcium kidney stones are the result of excess calcium in the blood, uric acid kidney stones occur when there’s too much uric acid in the blood.



Drink Water to Stay Hydrated

Hydration and kidney stones go hand in hand. According to one study, 19% of all kidney stone cases are caused by contributed to dehydration. If you don’t drink a sufficient amount of water, your blood will have an abnormally high ratio of minerals, including calcium, to water. As this mineral-filled blood reaches your kidneys, some of the minerals may accumulate and bundle together to form a kidney stone.

You can lower your risk of developing kidney stones by drinking lots of water. Some people follow the eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day rule to stay hydrated. Unfortunately, this doesn’t take into account body weight. A better way to gauge how much you should drink is to take your body weight and divide that number by two. If you weigh 140 pounds, for example, you should try to drink at least 70 ounces of water per day.


Consume Less Sodium

In addition to staying hydrated, consuming less sodium can lower your risk of developing kidney stones. When you consume too much sodium — the recommended daily intake is 2,300 milligrams per day — your kidneys will attempt to remove some of the excess sodium. During this process, however, your kidneys will also remove calcium from your blood, which can lead to the formation of kidney stones. To discourage the formation of kidney stones, avoid consuming more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, with an ideal limit of just 1,500 milligrams per day.

While sodium is found in countless foods, as well as beverages, you should be particularly cautious of the following high-sodium foods:

  • Potato chips
  • French fries
  • Soups
  • Deli meat
  • Microwavable meals
  • Pizza
  • Hamburgers
  • Salad dressing
  • Condiments (especially soy sauce)
  • Pasta sauce
  • Salted peanuts

Of course, a high-sodium diet can affect your health in other ways. Not only will it increase your risk of kidney stones; consuming too much sodium will raise your blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and other heart problems.


Avoid Soda

Don’t try to hydrate yourself with soda. While soda contains water, it contains other compounds that negate its risk-reducing benefits. Research shows that drinking just one soda per day increases the risk of kidney stones by over 20%. If you drink two or more sodas per day, you’ll risk will be even higher. Soda contains high concentrations of phosphoric acid that can accumulate in the blood and kidneys to create kidney stones. By avoiding soda and sticking with water, you’ll keep your body hydrated and achieve a lower risk of kidney stones.

To learn more about Atlanta Chiro and Wellness’s integrative medicine services, contact us today.

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