If passing a kidney stone counts as one of life's "lemons," as the saying goes, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade," did you know that drinking lemonade has been shown to prevent kidney stones?
Dr. Roger L. Sur, director of the UC San Diego Comprehensive Kidney Stone Center, lists five ways to prevent kidney stones, one of which is drinking lemonade. Additionally, you can consume lots of fluids while lowering your sodium, calcium, and protein intake.
Of all citrus fruits, lemons have the highest concentration of citrate, a substance that naturally prevents kidney stones from forming. In a recent study by Sur, it was discovered that lemonade therapy, which involves consuming four ounces of freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with two liters of water every day, reduces the rate of stone formation from 1 to 0.13 stones per patient.
Other fruit juices contain oxalate, one of the main ingredients in kidney stones, have less citrate, and are frequently calcium-supplemented. In actuality, calcium stones, which are primarily made of calcium oxalate, are the most typical type of kidney stones. According to Sur, consuming less salt prevents the formation of calcium stones because eating too much salt stimulates the excretion of calcium in the urine.
Some people won't even be aware that they have a small kidney stone until it passes through the kidney and lodges in the ureter, where it causes excruciating pain.
“Back and abdominal pain, blood in the urine, and nausea or vomiting are the three classic symptoms of kidney stones,” said Sur. “You don’t have to have all three, but any of them will come on quickly and be hard to ignore. When you have extreme pain, you should see your doctor or go to an emergency room right away, especially if a fever is present. The presence of fever indicates that you may have an infection in your bloodstream which can be life-threatening.”
Urinary excretion of uric acid, a waste product, results in the formation of another type of stone known as a uric acid stone. This forms the nidus, or beginning, of a kidney stone when it crystallizes in the urine; the stone may eventually become larger. A diet rich in proteins may result in uric acid stones.
Struvite, or infection stones, account for 5% of all kidney stones and typically occur with kidney or urinary tract infections. Due to their size and resemblance to a deer's antlers, they are frequently referred to as "staghorn stones."
Less than 1% of kidney stones are cystine stones, which are more common in families where there is an inherited disorder that causes an overabundance of the chemical cystine in the urine.
You should create a prevention strategy with your urologist if you have previously experienced multiple kidney stones or if you currently have any small stones.
“There is a 50 percent chance of getting another stone within five to ten years if you’ve already had one,” said Sur. “The UCSD Kidney Stone Center can determine the cause of a kidney stone 97 percent of the time through a combination of tests and scans. These provide us with the pertinent information we need in order to create an individualized prevention plan that incorporates dietary changes and the necessary follow-up.”
Surgery is occasionally necessary, even though medication therapy is typically the first line of treatment for kidney stones. Shock wave lithotripsy, percutaneous nephrolithotomy, and ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy are just a few of the surgical options available.