The kidney acts as a filter for blood, removing waste products from the body and helping regulate the levels of chemicals important for body function. The urine drains from the kidney into the bladder through a narrow tube called the ureter. When the bladder fills and there is an urge to urinate, the bladder empties through the urethra, a much wider tube than the ureter.
In some people, the urine chemicals crystallize and form the beginning of a kidney stone. These stones are very tiny when they form, smaller than a grain of sand, but gradually they can grow to a quarter inch or larger. The size of the stone doesn’t matter as much as where the stone is located.
When the stone sits in the kidney, it rarely causes problems, but should it fall into the ureter, it acts like a dam. The kidney continues to function and make urine, which backs up behind the stone, stretching the kidney. This pressure build up causes the pain of a kidney stone, but it also helps push the stone along the course of the ureter. When the stone enters the bladder, the obstruction in the ureter is relieved and the symptoms of a kidney stone are resolved.
How did I get stones?
You can develop a stone because of either one, or a combination, of the following:
How can I prevent stones in the future?
Although you cannot change heredity, you can change your hydration and diet.
Calcium: take 1000-1200 mg of calcium a day. Sources of calcium: Two Yogurts 425 mg/cup and a glass of milk 300 mg/cup or another combination to get to the 1000 mg. You can also get Calcium from TUMS 750 mg. Use the supplement to get the rest of the needed calcium.
Magnesium: Take 360-420 mg of Magnesium a day. Magnesium inhibits stone formation. Check your daily Multivitamin for this amount or try eating more broccoli or nuts.
Put the salt shaker away, and avoid Sodium: Limit Sodium intake to less than 1500 mg a day. Don’t add salt to your diet and avoid processed foods- processed foods already have a lot of added sodium.
Increase Fluids: This is the most important element of stone prevention. 2-3 Liters/Quarts of fluid intake every day is recommended, and water is best! Avoid high sugar beverages, they can cause calcium excess. Alcohol and Caffeine are diuretics and cause dehydration and should be avoided.