Many of us have heard of kidney stones. A kidney stone can be an uncomfortable and painful experience. Like every other disease, it is important to prevent it beforehand. One should immediately make lifestyle changes to reduce the risk when suspecting stone. Learn about calcium stones and why and how they can be prevented.
What is a Calcium Kidney Stone?
Kidney stones are hard, mineral-based deposits in a person’s kidneys or urinary tract. Kidney calcium stones, the most common type, account for about 80% of the cases worldwide and are formed when the concentration of certain substances such as oxalate, calcium, uric acid, and cystine are high in the urine. These substances form crystals and get tethered to the kidney. Its size gradually increases to form a stone.
Common symptoms include severe pain in the back, side or lower abdomen, and groin; pain during urination; blood in the urine; vomiting; and nausea.
Calcium Stone Risk Factors
A person might be at risk of calcium kidney stones if he or she has any of these risk factors:
- Dehydration: If one is not drinking enough water, urine becomes concentrated within the kidney, and the accumulated minerals crystallise to form stones.
- Diet: High doses of Vitamin D or foods high in calcium or protein can become a major reason for the formation of calcium kidney stones. Too much sugar or salt intake also increases the risk of developing stones.
- Hyperparathyroidism: This is when parathyroid glands produce too many hormones, which leads to a rise in calcium levels in the urine and blood.
- Medical conditions: Conditions like Dent disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease) and surgeries like gastric bypass surgery can affect the body’s ability to absorb fats properly because of inflammation in the intestines.
Calcium stone treatment depends upon the size and location of the stone, along with the severity of the symptoms. In severe cases, doctors suggest increasing fluid intake, and taking pain relievers. In certain cases, the doctors recommend going for medical procedures such as lithotripsy (using sound waves to dissolve stones) or ureteroscopy.
Calcium Stone Prevention
Diet is the root of everything in the body. A good diet can jack up the efficiency of the functioning of your body, while a bad one can subdue many of the bodily functions. Preventing calcium stones is also linked majorly to one’s diet, and healthy changes might keep miles away from this condition.
Here are a few of them:
- Increase fluid intake: Drinking a lot of water is essential to preventing any kind of kidney stones(not just Calcium stones) as it helps flush out waste minerals from the body and dilute urine, hence preventing accumulation and further formation of stones. Having at least 8-10 glasses of water per day is advised.
- Limit animal protein: Animal protein like meat, poultry products, and fish leads to rising levels of uric acid in the urine, leading to the formation of stones. Animal protein might also increase calcium excretion in the urine and reduce citrate amounts, leading to calcium stones. The body still needs proteins to function properly, so one can switch to plant-protein like beans, lentils, and dried peas instead.
- Consuming calcium-rich foods: While it may seem counterintuitive, consuming foods rich in calcium might help prevent the formation of kidney stones. People with low calcium intake are at a higher risk of calcium kidney stones as calcium binds to oxalate in the gut before it reaches the kidneys and makes it leave the body healthily. Low dietary calcium intake is inversely associated with an increase in stone formation. It is likely because of a secondary increase in urinary oxalate. A high salt diet and dehydration are also responsible for calcium kidney stones.
So, it is important to have the right amount of calcium. Calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, cereals, and leafy greens help balance the body’s calcium. Speak with your healthcare professional to know the right amount of calcium intake for yourself.
- Avoid Sodium intake: Limiting sodium intake helps reduce the risk of kidney calcium stones. Too much sodium promotes stone formation in the kidneys and increases the amount of calcium excreted in the urine. So one must avoid too much salt intake, processed and canned foods, sandwiched meats, and fast food snacks.
- Avoid Excessive Vitamin C in your diet: An essential aspect of the calcium stone diet is keeping a check on Vitamin C intake. Its excessive consumption can lead to the production of oxalate and may lead to increasing oxalate content in urine.
- Limit Oxalate-rich foods: Limit the intake of foods rich in oxalate, like spinach, nuts, and rhubarb, because oxalates bind with calcium to form kidney stones. Normally, oxalate in small amounts and calcium are present simultaneously in the urinary tract, but they do not cause any problems as they remain dissolved. However, sometimes, they may bind together to form crystals. These crystals can sometimes lead to stone formation, especially when oxalate levels are high and urine volume is low.
Get in touch with the expert doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during injuries, health disorders or any other health concern.
When to Consult a Doctor
Get in touch with the expert Nephrology doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during injuries, health disorders or any other health concern.
Calcium stones can be a very painful and uncomfortable condition to deal with, and it is necessary to treat it immediately, lest it aggravates further. As they say, prevention is better than cure, a few preventive steps, such as making simple diet changes, can help prevent and form calcium stones. If a person feels he or she might be at risk of kidney stones or suspect any symptoms, immediately contact a healthcare provider and switch to these dietary changes.
Q. What are the common dietary sources of calcium that contribute to the formation of kidney stones?
A. Calcium sources in the diet are critical for bone and tooth health. However, in sensitive individuals, high calcium consumption in the form of dairy products, calcium-fortified meals, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds can produce kidney stones.
Q. Can reducing oxalate intake help prevent calcium kidney stones?
A. For patients who have calcium oxalate kidney stones. Cutting back on high-oxalate meals and salt may help these people avoid kidney stones. On a reduced oxalate diet, you should consume no more than 40 to 50 mg of oxalate per day. However, it is crucial to highlight that excessive oxalate intake does not cause all kidney stones, and lowering oxalate intake may not be useful for everyone.
Q. What are the recommended daily calcium intake levels for individuals at risk of calcium kidney stones?
A. The recommended daily calcium intake amounts for people at risk of calcium kidney stones are determined by several characteristics, including age, gender, and overall health. Nonetheless, 1000-1200 mg of calcium daily is the best calcium supplement for persons at risk of stone development.
Q. Can a high-protein diet contribute to the formation of calcium kidney stones?
A. Eating too much animal protein, such as red meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood, raises uric acid levels and may result in kidney stones. This is due to the fact that a high-protein diet can increase the excretion of calcium and other minerals in the urine, which can contribute to the production of kidney stones. Furthermore, a high-protein diet might cause a more acidic environment in the body, increasing the chance of uric acid stones.
Q. What are the best foods to eat to prevent calcium kidney stones?
A. Calcium kidney stone prevention entails a mix of dietary changes, such as increasing fluid consumption, lowering sodium and oxalate intake, and ensuring appropriate intake of key nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium. The best recommendations include water, citrus fruits in moderation, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.