Avoid Summertime Kidney Stones

Female-Athlete-with-Kidney-PainSummer is a time of baseball, vacations, picnics, fireworks…and kidney stones. We bet that one doesn’t appear on anyone’s list of summer to-dos.

According to Tia Rapps, RN, urology nurse navigator at Memorial Medical Center, the reason summer is a risky time for kidney stones is the increased possibility of dehydration. Loss of fluid from sweating results in less urine production in the kidney. If urine becomes concentrated due to excessive sweating or not drinking enough fluid, this increases the chances that the minerals in the urine could stick together and form a stone rather than be flushed out of the kidney.

Kidney stones are typically made up of minerals that can accumulate in the kidneys from urine over time. These minerals can start to accumulate and bind together in the kidney to form “stones.” Kidney stones typically affect more men than women. Per the National Kidney Foundation, one out of 10 people will experience a kidney stone during their lifetime.

Some stones can stay in the kidney for years without being noticed; others will form and can move out of the kidney into the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder). Depending on the shape and size of the stone, these may pass down the ureter without any issues, or they can become lodged along the way. This can cause pain, nausea and vomiting, blood in the urine and possibly fever or chills.

There is no single cause of kidney stones. Risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • Prior history of at least one stone
  • Frequent dehydration
  • Diet high in sodium, refined sugar or animal protein
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Certain metabolic or digestive medical problems
  • Certain medications

Rapps provides the following tips to avoid kidney stones:

  • Minimize sodium, animal protein and refined sugar intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Add citrus to your diet. “Citrate can help prevent stone formation,” Rapps said. “Try fresh lemons or limes.”