Kidney stones have become such a widespread health problem nowadays that one in every twenty people develops it at some point of life. Scientifically known as “renal calculi” the condition of having kidney stones is called nephrolithiasis. Kidney stones are usually formed by a compound called calcium oxalate and other dissolved minerals that deposit on the inner linings of the kidney. With time, these mineral crystals or stones grow and can lead to extreme pain, blockage of the ureter that can lead to chronic kidney diseases.
Main Causes of Kidney Stone Formation:
Kidney stones may form due to various reasons, but here we have listed only a few of the most common causes of Kidney stone formation.
- Kidney stone is caused due to lack of water intake. Kidney stones are more common in persons who drink less than eight glasses of water per day. Water helps to flush out the salts, minerals and other substances from the kidney through the urinary tract. But lack of water in the body makes these substances to stick together to form solid crystals.
- Certain medical conditions such as, gout and inflammatory bowel disease can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
- Kidney stones can be a hereditary disease and affect family members over several generations.
- A diet high in sodium and oxalate rich foods such as, dark green vegetables can increase the risk of kidney stones.
- Hyperparathyroidism causes the parathyroid gland to release imbalanced hormones leading to excessive release of calcium in the blood thereby aggravating the risk of kidney stones.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones:
In many cases, the stones are so small that they pass through urine unnoticed. We have symptoms only when the stone is big enough, and it has moved down the ureters towards the bladder. In such a case, the stone can block urine flow out of the kidney. The symptoms include sharp pain in the belly, back and lower abdomen along with pain in groin. Other symptoms include blood in urine, abnormal urine color, chills, fever, nausea and vomiting.
4 Main Types of Kidney Stones:
Not all kidney stones are made from the same compounds and the treatment often depends on the type of stone that has formed in the kidney. There are four main types of kidney stones.
Calcium Stones– More than 80% of stones that form in the kidney are made of calcium compounds, especially calcium oxalate along with calcium phosphate and other minerals. Excessive calcium in urine combines with other waste products to from solid crystals in the kidney. Calcium stones are usually made of calcium combined with oxalate and in rare cases phosphate.
Uric Acid Stones– Excessive animal protein rich foods produce uric acid during digestion and metabolism and high level of this acid may not dissolve properly, which leads to formation of uric acid crystals. The good news is that, this is the only type of kidney stone that can be dissolved by medication.
Struvite Stones– Also known as infection stones, it develops when urinary tract or bladder infection affects the chemical balance of urine. Bacteria present in the urinary tract releases chemicals to neutralize uric acid which in turn helps bacteria growth and development of Struvite Stones. The Struvite Stones can turn serious because of the large size of stones coupled with infection. It is more common in women because they are more susceptible to urinary tract infection compared to men.
Cystine Stones– The rarest of all kidney stones, the Cystine Stones are made of Cystine, an insoluble amino acid present in proteins. It is usually a hereditary problem and requires prolonged treatment therapy.
The treatment for kidney stone depends on the size and composition of the stone and its present location in the urinary tract.
Shock Wave Lithotripsy– In this treatment, a machine called the Lithotripter is used to send shock waves to the body in order to break down the stones so that they pass out with urine.
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy– In this treatment, a tube is directly inserted into the kidney through a small incision to retrieve the stones. In case the stones are too big, an ultra-sonic probe is used to break them into small pieces for easy removal.
Ureteroscopy– In this treatment, a long tube like instrument fitted with an eyepiece is inserted into the patient’s urethra that slides through the bladder to reach the ureter. It locates and retrieves the stone. If the stone is too big, then it is broken down by a laser.
Foods to Avoid After a Kidney Stone Surgery:
The first step towards recovering from a kidney surgery and protect it from further damage is making positive changes in fluid intake and drinking 2-3 liters of water every day. You should avoids foods rich in oxalates and calcium for at least 1 month. Usually the diet plan can change according to the kidney stone, but make sure to avoid these foods after consulting your physician.
Foods Rich in Oxalates:
Oxalates are naturally occurring substances that belong to the group of organic acids. It is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, animals, and it is constantly produced in our bodies, as well. For example, the cells routinely transform Vitamin C into oxalates. High level of oxalates in the body can lead to kidney stone formation, and about 80% of kidney stones in adults are calcium oxalate stones.
- Green Leafy Vegetables- Spinach, Mustard greens, Beet greens
- Vegetables- Cucumber, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli, Tomato
- Fruits- Bananas, Strawberries, Cherries, Grapes, Mango, Melon, Coconut, Apricot
- Nuts- Almonds, Peanuts, Cashew
- Legumes- Tofu, Soya bean
- Soft drinks, black and green tea, cocoa, chocolate, alcohol
Foods Rich in Calcium:
Here it is to be noted that calcium itself is not the enemy but sodium. A sodium rich diet promotes the kidney to release more calcium in the urine that binds with the oxalate to form stones. Therefore, it is better to avoid sodium as well by staying away from fast food and processed food.
- Cereal and Pulses- Ragi, Rajmah, Soya bean
- Green Leafy Vegetables- Spinach and Amaranth
- Vegetables-Colocasia, Carrot
- Milk and Milk Products- Plain Milk, Skimmed Milk, Cheese and Milk Powder
- Nuts- Almonds
- Organ meat and red meat
- Fish- Rohu, Parsey, Crabs and Prawns
Things to Remember:
There are certain things that you need to keep in mind after your kidney surgery for maintaining the health of the kidney and its proper functioning.
- Plenty of water (3-4 liters) needed to be taken each day along with other fluids
- Milk can be consumed in diluted form
- Limiting animal protein such as red meat, fish, poultry
- Combination of tomato and green leafy vegetables should be avoided
- Tomatoes should not be consumed in raw form
- Caffeinated beverages such as, coffee and cocoa drinks should be restricted
- Small, frequent meal pattern should be followed
- Gas producing foods such as, cabbage, cauliflowers, whole pulses and potatoes should be restricted
- Limit sodium intake within 1500-2300 mg. This will be helpful for blood pressure and heart health as well
I hope these pieces of information will be able to guide you and provide all the information about kidney stones and how to recover from a Kidney stone surgery with a watchful diet.