By Samantha Bowick, MPH, Author, Patient Advocate
Kidney Stones are hard mineral deposits made up of different chemicals that can be found in any part of the urinary tract. They are foreign objects made in the kidneys that can wreak havoc on the body causing extreme pain, nausea/vomiting, and infections. It’s important that if you have a kidney stone that it exits the body as soon as possible because it can cause problems. Issues with the urinary tract, such as a kidney stone that won’t move on it’s own, can increase your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease. Unfortunately, if you have had a kidney stone, you know the pain all too well. Once you have one kidney stone, this increases your chances of having kidney stones in the future.
So, what can you do for your urinary health to decrease your chances of having a kidney stone? Here are three examples of lifestyle changes that can be made:
- Make sure you stay hydrated. Dehydration can increase your risk of having kidney stones because toxins aren’t being flushed out of your body like they should. Drinking at least two liters of water a day can decrease your risk of kidney stones by about half according to Harvard Health.
- Diet changes can be made if you have had a kidney stone and it was tested to see what type it was. There are certain foods one should avoid or limit depending on the type of kidney stone found. For example, my kidney stone that was tested was a calcium oxalate stone so I avoid foods high in oxalates like spinach and almonds.
- There are supplements you can talk to your doctor about that can help your urinary tract work at optimum level.
These tips may be helpful when seeking care for a kidney stone:
- Ask your family members if they have had kidney stones no matter their age. Knowing your family history can be imperative in receiving health care as quickly as possible as they can run in families.
- If you are having trouble urinating or painful urination, ask your family practitioner to refer you to a urologist. A urologist specializes in all things urinary related and will do the proper testing to see if you have a kidney stone or if something else is going on.
- Make sure to write down your symptoms and if you notice if they get worse during a certain part of day or activity such as eating certain foods or exercise.
- If you are having urinary pain, urinary tract infections, etc., do your own research. You know your body best and you have to make the best decision for you.
- Know that even though you didn’t have a kidney stone when you were younger, you can still have a kidney stone form.
- When going to the doctor, make a list of any questions you have ahead of time so that all of your questions get answered during that appointment. Going to the doctor can cause anxiety and make patients forget what they wanted to ask so it’s important to be as prepared as possible.
Advocating for yourself is important in seeking proper health care. Examples of questions that you can ask your doctor include:
- What do you think is causing my pain and symptoms?
- Can you do a urine test to see if I have bacteria in my urine?
- Can you order a CT scan to see if I have a kidney stone because of my pain and symptoms?
- Can you refer me to a urologist?
- Are there any diet changes I can make?
- What options do I have for removing my kidney stone?
- Can I call you next week and let you know what my decision is after I do some research?
- How many surgeries have you done for kidney stone removal?
- Can you test my kidney stone to see what type it is so I can make lifestyle changes if needed?
About the Author:
Samantha Bowick, MPH is a patient advocate. She is the author of four books, one of those being Living with Kidney Stones: The Complete Guide to Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options. This book details Samantha’s journey with kidney stones and provides medical information about kidney stones. Along with being an author, she is the founder of Chronic Illness Support, LLC, which allows her to provide education and awareness for different chronic illnesses in hopes to help others. You can find Samantha on Facebook (Samantha Bowick or Chronic Illness Support, LLC), Instagram (@skbowick), Twitter (@skbowick), and her website (https://www.SamanthaBowick.com).