Have you heard of the kidney stone diet? It is a form of diet that helps people prevent kidney stones or reduce the risk of recurring. It typically includes drinking plenty of water, getting enough calcium, and limiting salt intake. However, there’s no single diet plan for all types of kidney stones; hence, it is necessary to know what kidney stones are.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about kidney stones – their types and the available treatment options.
What are kidney stones and their types?
A kidney stone is a painful medical condition characterized by solid masses made of crystals that usually originate in the kidneys and then develop in the urinary tract. It can be as tiny as a pebble or a grain of sand, and you might not easily notice it. Once it gets bigger, it can block the flow of your urine and hurt a lot.
Each type of kidney stone has different causes and may result in more specific symptoms. This is why it is important to determine which type you have so you can identify the exact cause and how to prevent or treat it. What medications do you need to take? Or do you have to undergo ureteral stones removal?
To know the answer, here are the different types of kidney stones:
Calcium. Considered as the most common kidney stones, they come in the form of calcium oxalate and phosphate. Calcium oxalate crystals are made from oxalate, which is usually found in green and leafy vegetables. Having too much of this substance can cause it to crystallize and clump together into stones. On the other hand, calcium phosphate crystals often occur in people with metabolic conditions.
Cystine. This type of kidney stones occurs in both men and women with a genetic disorder called cystinuria. It is considered rare as it is only formed when the kidney leaks cystine too much into the urine.
Struvite. Struvite stones are often formed due to a urinary tract infection and are more common in women than in men. The stones can grow quickly and when they do, they can block the bladder, ureter, or kidney and eventually damage it.
Uric acid. With this type of stone, people with chronic diarrhea, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome are at risk. It can also occur in people going through chemotherapy. Uric acid stones develop when urine is too acidic, which is caused by a purine-rich diet such as fish, meat, and shellfish.
How to Treat Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are treated according to their type. But generally, they can be treated by drinking six to eight glasses of water a day – making sure that you are properly dehydrated.
Other treatment options include medications to relieve the pain and prevent the stones from growing further.
In other cases where the stone has become very large, and you’re in too much pain, using soundwaves to break up stones and surgery such as tunnel surgery or ureteral stones removal to remove stones may be performed.
How to Prevent Kidney Stones?
Cliché as it may sound, but prevention is still always better than cure. You may prevent or reduce the risk of kidney stones by choosing a diet low in salt and animal protein, drinking water throughout the day, and eating fewer oxalate-rich foods.