October 18th, 2010
09:39 AM ET

What can I do to prevent kidney stones?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Monday, it's Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician.

Question asked by Roger of Maryland

Several years ago I had kidney stones. I would like to know how or what I can do to prevent this happening again. I understand that there is a chance of this happening again once you have it before.

Expert answer:

Thank you for your question. Kidney stones are common, affecting around 10 percent of the population at some point during their lifetime. These stones are caused by having too much calcium and other substances in the urine. Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type and affect men more often than women, typically between 20 and 30 years of age. About half of all people with these stones will get at least one more stone within the next 10 years.

One of the best ways to prevent future stones from forming is to drink enough fluids - to the point that one's urine is clear or pale yellow. It can also be helpful to limit or consume salt and animal proteins in moderation. Other dietary changes or medications may be recommended depending on the type of kidney stone a person has had.

In some instances, kidney stones are caused by a medical problem (such as a disorder of the parathyroid gland, diabetes, gout and more). Treating the medical condition may prevent stones from recurring. Often, however, there is no known reason for the condition (called idiopathic kidney stones, or nephrolithiasis) so it may be difficult to avoid a recurrence.

For advice about your own situation, be sure to consult your own doctor. Good luck!

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Dr Muzammil Ahmed

    Actually, as a urologist and treater of numeorus kidney stones, 3 things consistently help prevent them: 1. lots of fluid (2-3 liters a day), 2. reducing salt or sodium in your diet, and 3. increasing intake of citric acid, usually lemonade, grapefruit juice, orange juice, etc. Increased calcium intake is useful for most calcium oxalate stones. There is a simple 24 hour urine test that can be done to diagnose the exact cause of your stone, and most people can be placed on some dietary modifications, mineral supplements or medications to prevent more stones. Good luck!

    October 18, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Elizabeth

    Daily does of Magnesium and B6 have been found to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Goggle this for additional info. It has worked for me for many years.

    October 18, 2010 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Marla Heller, MS, RD

    A recent article in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reported that people who follow the DASH diet eating plan were 40 – 45% less likely to develop kidney stones.

    Marla Heller, MS, RD, author of The DASH Diet Action Plan

    October 18, 2010 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Michael

    I wonder why no one mentions consumption of carbonated beverages as a factor in kidney stone formation, as it is well known that CO2 contributes to decalcification of bones – where does that calcium go? That's right, straight to the kidneys.
    Carbonated beverages should have a warning label: "May contribute to osteoporosis and kidney stones" – the fact they don't is a tribute to the power of corporations over our rights to consumer protection.

    October 18, 2010 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dave

    The potassium citrate in orange juice has been found to be the best bet for preventing calcium oxalate stone. That, plus plenty of fluids. I've kept mine away for over two years by consuming orange juice daily, drinking plenty of water (minimzing the caffeine-laden drinks as they tend to dehydrate you), plus lower intake of sodium and red meat. I tried lemon juice / lemonade for awhile but it's essentially useless versus orange juice.

    October 18, 2010 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Thomas

    Interesting that I happen to be close to passing a 6.4mm stone as I write a reply to this article. The first thing I was told to do, after submitting a stone to the lab for analysis, was to drink NO MORE soft drinks. Not one once in a while- NO MORE! PERIOD! So I do not and nor will I ever again. I have just gone through nine days of intense pain due to the current kidney stone. My stones are calcium oxalate. The only consolation I have is they are just a little bit easier to pass than stones composed of other materials. I cannot say this enough…DRINK LOTS OF WATER. DRINK SO MUCH WATER YOU ARE SICK OF THE NON-TASTE OF IT AND THEN DRINK MORE. This is especially true if you are about to pass a stone. You wanna give it the biggest river you can float it down to ease the passing.

    October 18, 2010 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Charlie

    Thanks Elizabeth and Dave. A dietary supplement called renalstat, developed by a nephrologist from NY, includes b6, magnesium and potassium citrate – all items you mention that have been suggested for many years. So, instead of taking 3 or 4 pills at each meal, they say only one is required before breakfast and one before dinner for a healthy kidney and urinary environment.

    October 23, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Chet Drader

    Kidney stone requires expensive surgery or some ultrasonic machine to blast small build up of oxalate stones. :

    Most recently released article content on our personal webpage

    November 12, 2012 at 06:33 | Report abuse | Reply

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