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4 Steps to Prevent Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form when the urine becomes too concentrated—either from too much “bad stuff” in your diet or not enough water—and small crystals form. The crystals slowly grow into large stones and can be quite unpredictable. If a stone gets stuck and blocks the flow of urine, it can cause severe pain. And to make matters worse, people who form stones once are at higher risk of having a second episode.

While there are different types of kidney stones, there are some general steps you can take to prevent their formation.

Drink water—lots of water.
Aim to drink at least two liters of water each day. Never let your urine become dark yellow; this is a sign you are dehydrated.

Get juiced. Citrus juice helps prevent the bad components of your urine from bonding and forming kidney stones. Adding a small amount of lemon, orange, lime, or other citrus juice helps decrease the chance of kidney stone formation.

Lay off the salt. Sodium causes calcium to be pushed from the kidneys into your urine. Since calcium is the biggest component of kidney stones, too much salt can be a problem. Limit daily sodium intake to around 2,500 mg. If you are a salt lover, drinking water before and after a salty meal helps to counterbalance sodium's negative effects.

Limit meat. Eating too much protein, mostly from meat or seafood, can increase your risk for stones. Try going vegetarian one day a week (Meatless Monday!) or keeping your portions of meat to the size of a smartphone. 

Brian Steixner, MD, is a board-certified urologist at Barton Health. A variety of services and treatments are available at Barton Urology for men and women, including incontinence, urinary tract infections, prostate cancer, urinary tract cancer, vasectomy, and vasectomy reversals. To make an appointment, call 530.543.5400 or visit BartonHealth.org/Urology.