What is it like living with kidney stones?
Many people have very minor kidney stones that they are unaware of. Sometimes these are discovered when they have gone for a medical scan for a different reason. Other people may have very small stones that are flushed away in their urine without them noticing.
Generally, people do not live with kidney stones that are causing problems as these do require treatment. If you have any symptoms of a kidney stone, you should see your doctor straight away.
If left untreated, kidney stones can block the tubes from the kidneys to the bladder or make them narrower. This increases your risk of a kidney infection and there is also a risk that urine may build up and put a strain on your kidneys.
These problems are rare, however, because most kidney stones are treated before they can cause these types of complications.
How can recurrence of kidney stones be prevented?
If you are examined and are found to have kidney stones and your doctor thinks that you have a high risk of forming more kidney stones in the future, they will do a metabolic evaluation. This is a series of blood and urine tests to decide what additional treatment might be suitable for you. These treatments are mainly in the form of medication or dietary changes.
Even if the tests show that your risk of developing another kidney stone is low, you will be advised to make some lifestyle changes such as:
- Increasing your daily fluid intake to 2.5-3.0 litres, mostly in the form of water and drank steadily throughout the day
- Adopting a balanced diet, with less salt, meat and alcohol and more vegetables and fibre to maintain healthy calcium levels and a lower intake of animal proteins
- Maintaining a healthy body weight (a normal BMI) and ensuring you take adequate physical activity (exercising 2-3 times per week)