2018-03-01 / OnCall

Helpful Tips to Avoid Kidney Stones

Our expert shares how to keep your kidneys healthy
Kerim Oncu, DO

If you or someone you know has had a kidney stone, you probably heard them describe the excruciating pain similar to giving birth. Many people suffer from kidney stones and do not realize there are treatment options available to help prevent future stones.

If you have one kidney stone, you have a 60 percent chance of having another kidney stone in the next five years. I recommend patients talk with their primary care providers about their kidney stones and ask to see a nephrologist to try to prevent future stones from occurring. We can significantly reduce your chances of having another kidney stone by optimizing your urine environment.

I recommend drinking at least 10 ounces of water every hour while awake and squeezing lemon juice into the water. The lemon juice alkalinizes the urine, which decreases stone formation. The increased fluids dilute the calcium and oxalate in the urine.

An old wives’ tale holds that caffeine causes kidney stones. It’s not the caffeine that causes kidney stones but the fact that foods high in caffeine tend to be high in oxalate — which is a major cause of kidney stones. Coffee, tea, soda and chocolate are high in oxalate and should be avoided if possible.

I recommend avoiding calcium supplements and vitamin C; however I do not recommend avoiding calcium in the diet. Calcium binds with oxalate in the food and does not get absorbed. If you avoid calcium in the diet, you will absorb more oxalate, increasing your chances of having another kidney stone.

In our office, we screen for causes of kidney stones including primary hyperparathyroidism, renal tubular acidosis and medullary sponge kidney. We would also recommend doing a 24-hour urine collection to analyze the urine environment and promote the best environment to prevent future kidney stones. We may recommend certain medications to prevent kidney stones like hydrochlorothiazide or potassium citrate depending on the urine studies.

Kerim Oncu, DO, is a nephrologist serving State College, Philipsburg and Lock Haven. He is board certified in internal medicine and nephrology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. His areas of special interest include polycystic kidney disease and nephropathic cystinosis.

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