What’s more painful than kidney stones? Maybe childbirth, right? That’s what I’ve always heard. Not until recently could I compare the two to give my own opinion of which is worse! Last month, while moving my daughter into college, I was experiencing pain—and not just the emotional sort!
For several days, I had waves of abdominal pain, back pain, and occasional nausea. Finally, a trip to the ER (convinced my appendix may be the problem), and I got my answer: kidney stones.
Believe me, once you have kidney stones, you want to get rid of them and keep them away! Since my ER visit, I’ve done some consulting with physicians thanks to a cool new service I have called Doctors Online.
I’m sharing my learnings! Here are 4 reasons you might experience the joy of kidney stones...
1. Hereditary Factors
That’s right! Like so many other things, our genes can carry a tendency toward developing kidney stones. If someone in your immediate family has a history of this problem, the likelihood you'll have the experience increases, too. Thanks, mom and dad. Read on, as there are often other, more controllable factors at play.
2. General Health and Medications
Your general health—ahem, your weight—and other medical conditions, along with medications you may use to treat them, are also considerations. Regarding weight, it’s not just the scale, but where you carry your weight that matters. If you tend to hold extra pounds in your mid-section, giving you a higher BMI, this can be a contributing factor. Also, an array of medical conditions, from an overactive neck gland pumping out extra hormones to something as simple as a urinary tract infection, can also add to your chances of a kidney stone. So be sure to share your whole health picture with any doctors you consult.
3. High-Sodium or High-Protein Diets
Not all kidney stones are created equal. Different types of stones are influenced by different foods. The most common stones are made up of calcium oxalate. But this doesn’t mean you need to avoid calcium-rich foods (though calcium supplements aren’t a good idea). Rather, a high-sodium diet—even sodium occurring naturally in healthy foods like certain fruits, vegetables and nuts—can cause our bodies to create more oxalate. Here’s a list of foods that may surprise you with their sodium levels.
Other stones are often made up of uric acid. If you eat a high-protein diet, this can contribute to the issue. There are some medications to help reduce uric acid levels in the blood (which, by the way, will also decrease your chances of gout). Uric acid is also affected by levels of fluid in your body, which leads me to the next factor.
Getting and keeping enough fluids in your body can minimize the chances of uric acid kidney stones. You know where this is going: DRINK WATER! If you like carbonated sodas, cut them out and add in the good H2O. This is one of the only healthy habits I’ve kept up for years. But in the weeks around my daughter’s move to college, I drank less water out of sheer busyness. When I purposely upped my water intake again, my symptoms improved. If you are really active, make sure you are replenishing the water you lose from your workouts.
So what’s my take on kidney stones vs. childbirth? For both, each experience is unique. One big difference, childbirth has a definite cause :-) Whereas, the contributing factors for your kidney stones will require a bit more investigation.
If you're experiencing this issue, click here to review some great tips for preparing to see a doctor and getting the most out of your appointment. If you have a recurring problem, you may want to ask about having your stones analyzed to help you discover treatment steps.
Now it’s your turn! What’s your kidney stone experience? Did you identify contributing factors or find a helpful tip for coping with them? Comment below or email me at Jeanette@freshbenies.com.