Dr. Mark Kestner (crop)

Kestner

There is some research news about kidney stones. For anyone that is affected by these problem accumulations of minerals in the kidney, the news is mostly good.

There have been some recent changes in how kidney stones are viewed by clinicians and researchers.  Kidney stones have always been thought to be insoluble in the kidney, meaning they would persist there until they passed or had to be removed by a medical procedure.

Recent findings have demonstrated that the typical stones actually dissolve to some degree, then grow a little, off and on during their existence.  This finding has led to research into new possibilities for treatment that could involve dissolving the stones while in the kidney.

There are also new drugs that have been successfully used to intentionally relax the ureters where the stones may become lodged in order for the patient to be able to pass them more easily.

Although there are new treatment options available and safer and more effective prospects are on the horizon, it is still best to avoid the development of the stones in the first place.

After doing a bit of research I am able to share some very good tips to help you lessen your risk of kidney stones.

1. First of all, don’t live in the southeastern United States.  It turns out that the incidence of kidney stones is highest here. (But I love it here and you probably do to, so we need to look into some other steps to prevent these costly and painful concrete demons.)

2. Most important of all recommendations is the simplest: DRINK MORE WATER. Your kidneys act as a filter. The more water that you can pass through this elaborate filter system, the better.

3. Lemon juice seems to have a benefit in reducing the incidence of kidney stones. Some urologists recommend that patients drink a glass of real lemonade every day and add a slice of fresh lemon to drinking water. Apparently, the citric acid in real lemons that helps, so the artificially lemon-flavored drink mixes don’t count.

4. Some clinicians recommend apple cider vinegar. It is possible that the acetic acid in the vinegar is helpful.

5. There are some other things that might help prevent the dreaded calcium aggregate from plugging your plumbing. Avoid dietary sources of oxalate. What foods would that be, you ask? Well, the things we love to eat here in the Southeast, primarily black tea and dark green leafy vegetables. (Who knew spinach and turnip greens could turn on us?)  Other foods high in oxalates include rhubarb, beets, peanuts, chocolate, okra, grits, celery and green peppers. (I think instead of actually studying the food, the researchers just made a list of everything we eat in the South! On a lighter note, fruitcake is high in oxalates, too, but who really eats fruitcake?)

6. Other tips include eating less meat, particularly marinated meats that have been highly processed and contain sodium (now they’re messing with our barbeque), fewer carbonated beverages and avoid grapefruit juice.

7. Be aware that certain drugs can increase risk for kidney stones. If in doubt ask your doctor or pharmacist about your prescriptions.

8. Lose weight.  Being overweight can lead to increased risk of kidney stones.

9. Manage diabetes and hypertension. These conditions are associated with increased kidney stone risk.

How much water is enough?  Some experts recommend a minimum of three liters (or quarts) per day, evenly spaced during the day rather than all at once.  That’s about eight 12-ounce glasses.  Obviously, if you are sweating heavily you should increase this amount.

There are several kinds of kidney stones and some people have hereditary conditions that predispose them to forming stones. 

Thankfully, most kidney stones will pass without intervention. Many times, the stones cause no symptoms at all.  People often pass a small stone without being aware that it was there. It is possible for even a small stone to block the ureter (tube between the kidney and the bladder) and cause a great deal of pain for a while, then be pain-free for a period.

If you have any concerns about recurrent kidney stones, a visit to the urologist may be helpful.

Dr. Mark Kestner is a licensed chiropractic physician in Murfreesboro. His office is at 1435 NW Broad St. Contact him at mkestner@DrKestner.com or www.Dr.Kestner.com.

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