Kidney stones are a common urologic condition.
Kidney stones are a common urologic condition that affects millions of men, women, and children in the Unites States and worldwide. Sometimes, kidney stone formation is a one-time isolated event. For others, kidney stone formation may be chronic and tied to a family history of generating stones.
The American Urological Association cites that kidney stones affect up to 12% of the population sometime during their lifetime. With a population of over 325 million people in the United States, numbers suggest that approximately 39 million Americans will experience a kidney stone at some point in their lifetime.
Kidney stone risk factors
There are several risk factors associated with kidney stones, including medical determinants. However, other factors can impact stone formation.
- Gender – Research shows that men are more prone to developing kidney stones than women.
- Age – Although stones can develop at any age, the mean age of stone formation for men is 44.8 years old; for women 40.9 years old.
- Region – In the United States, there is a higher incidence of kidney stones in what is known as the ‘stone belt‘. This designation was established in the 1970s to include states in the Southeastern United States.
Traditional stone belt states include:
- North and South Carolina
In reality, stone formation is a risk in any state, or climate, in which temperatures remain hot over long stretches of time, and in which dehydration is a problem.
Steps to avoid kidney stones
The following are some simple steps that can help reduce the likelihood of developing a stone. While being helpful, there may be medical factors that will still cause stones to form.
- Stay hydrated – It is important to make sure you are getting enough fluids. Water is ideal because it eliminates (flushes out) many of the waste products found in urine. Avoid beverages that tend to be higher in sugar. Adding lemon or lime juice to water is beneficial in reducing stone risk. These fruits contain high levels of citrate which is tied to stone prevention.
- Limit sodium intake – Sodium creates an excess of calcium in the body, which is the most common type of kidney stone.
- Avoid diets high in animal protein – If the majority of protein in your diet comes from animals, try looking to plant-based sources as a supplement. Overly acidic urine increases the risk for kidney stones, and animal protein has been identified as a clear contributor to this common ailment. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can help lower the acidity in your urine, and in turn decrease your risk for developing kidney stones. However, some vegetables can contribute to stone formation.
Unfortunately, family history is a factor that those who are affected have no control over. If members of your family have previously been diagnosed with kidney stones, it is even more important to follow some of the preventative measures listed above. If you have a family history of stones, contact Urology Austin for an evaluation.
American Urological Association: Kidney stones
Kidney stone epidemiology and demographics