Health & Wellness

A Stone Story: Not Every (Kidney) Stone is Alike

Did you know that there are multiple types of kidney stones? By far the most common kidney stones are composed of calcium and oxalate. Many people assume that reducing calcium intake can help prevent calcium oxalate stones, but surprisingly, this is rarely the case. However, reducing oxalate intake can be very effective in preventing stone formation. That means not overdoing it with certain vegetables that are high in oxalate, including spinach, parsley, green peppers, olives, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes and beans. Also tea, particularly sweet tea, as well as other dark drinks, such as hot chocolate, coffee and dark beers, can include high levels of oxalate.

Stones composed of uric acid are also quite common. These are unique because they cannot be seen on x-ray and can only be visualized well on a CAT scan. Patients with gout, as well as patients with very high animal protein diets or high alcohol consumption, are more prone to uric acid stones. Uric acid stones are also unique because they generally only form in acidic (low pH) urine, and can actually be dissolved with medicines that increase the pH of the patient’s urine. Most other stones cannot be dissolved once they are formed, and unfortunately continue to grow over time.

Increasing water intake is the one strategy that can help prevent formation of ANY type of kidney stones. People prone to forming stones should try to drink enough water to make at least 2.5 liters of urine every 24 hours. (It’s actually really easy to measure urine output – just use a large measuring cup and measure and record output over 24 hours.) An easier, though less accurate way to make sure you are well hydrated is to look at the color of your urine. When well hydrated, urine should be very clear, as opposed to dark yellow or orange in color.

At the Kidney Stone Center of Charleston, we can help you in three ways.

  1. First, we are available to see you immediately if you are having a painful kidney stone attack (passing a stone).
  2. Second, we can help you get rid of any existing stones in your kidneys, which may not be causing pain now but likely will cause future misery.
  3. Third, we can help identify what factors are causing you to make stones, and help you reduce your risk of making kidney stones in the future.

So stay hydrated, eat healthy, and here’s to keeping kidney stones more than a stone’s throw away.

By Dr. Dennis Kubinski, a board certified urologist with Charleston Urology Associates and a Roper St. Francis Physician Partner


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