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Expert Q&A

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What can I do to prevent kidney stones?

Asked by Roger, Maryland

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Several years ago I had kidney stones. I would like to know how or what I can do to prevent this happening again. I understand that there is a chance of this happening again once you have it before.

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Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Thank you for your question. Kidney stones are common, affecting around 10 percent of the population at some point during their lifetime. These stones are caused by having too much calcium and other substances in the urine. Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type and affect men more often than women, typically between 20 and 30 years of age. About half of all people with these stones will get at least one more stone within the next 10 years.

One of the best ways to prevent future stones from forming is to drink enough fluids -- to the point that one's urine is clear or pale yellow. It can also be helpful to limit or consume salt and animal proteins in moderation. Other dietary changes or medications may be recommended depending on the type of kidney stone a person has had.

In some instances, kidney stones are caused by a medical problem (such as a disorder of the parathyroid gland, diabetes, gout and more). Treating the medical condition may prevent stones from recurring. Often, however, there is no known reason for the condition (called idiopathic kidney stones, or nephrolithiasis) so it may be difficult to avoid a recurrence.

For advice about your own situation, be sure to consult your own doctor. Good luck!

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