Kidney Stone Season is Here
Categories: Kidney Stone Prevention, Stones in the News
Did you know that kidney stones have a season? Well, they do and it’s here. Summer is kidney stone season. There are a number of reasons that summer is considered kidney stone season:
One of the biggest causes of kidney stones is inadequate fluid consumption, causing dehydration. When we are dehydrated, our urine becomes concentrated with the chemicals and minerals that cause kidney stones, such as uric acid, calcium, oxalate, and phosphorous. In the summertime, we dehydrate more quickly as we sweat, but also in the dry air of air conditions spaces by way of aspiration. If your pee is dark in color, you are probably not drinking enough water.
The solution is easy: stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times, especially if you are outside or traveling. Drink a minimum of 2 liters of water, which is approximately eight glasses.
Summertime food is awesome, though not always the healthiest. Because of the convenience, we eat a lot of processed foods in the summer. Consider some of our favorites:
- Foods high in sodium: hot dogs, bratwurst, grilled meats, pretzels, potato chips (also high in oxalate), corn chips, crackers, pickles, relish
- Foods high in oxalate: Potato chips, french fries, spinach, rhubarb, Swiss chard
- Foods high in purines: grilled meats
Solution: it is nearly impossible to avoid these foods and summer probably wouldn’t be as much fun without them. Make sure you eat plenty of unprocessed foods. Many fresh fruits and vegetables are in season during the summer, so take advantage of the fresh food while it’s available.
There are several beverages that may contribute to the formation of kidney stones:
- Iced tea (black)
- Carbonated soft drinks, especially caffeinated ones
- Some types of beer, in particular dark beers
The first and most obvious, for those who suffer from calcium oxalate stones, is iced black tea, which is high in oxalate. This is one of the most popular summertime drinks, and sweet tea is highly popular throughout the southern United States throughout the year.
Whether you call it pop, soda, or Coke, carbonated soft drinks have been shown in several clinical studies to increase the incidence of kidney stones. Caffeinated drinks also act as a diuretic, which contribute to dehydration.
Some dark beers are high in oxalate and can contribute to stones. Lighter beers tend to be lower in oxalate, though this is only a general rule.
Solution: limit the amount of iced tea, soft drinks, and dark beer that you drink. If you drink them, make sure you drink lots of clear water as well. There is one common summertime beverage that can benefit you: lemonade. Lemonade is high in citrate, which helps calcium from binding with oxalate and phosphorous in the urinary tract.
The sun causes kidney stones? Say it isn’t so! Well, not exactly, but it can be a contributor. As we all learned in school, the sun allows us to synthesize Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), which helps us absorb calcium in our intestines. Excess calcium that doesn’t get used or stored in our bones ends up in our urine, thanks in part to excess sodium.
Solution: wear sunblock, limit your daily exposure to the sun, stay in the shade, and avoid the sunniest time of the day. Besides, your skin will thank you.
To help prevent kidney stones this summer, make sure that you follow these simple guidelines:**
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
- Choose healthier foods whenever possible
- Limit iced tea, soft drinks, and dark beers
- Limit mid-day exposure to the sun, wear sunblock, stay in the shade if possible
Sources: Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health, Wikipedia
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This article is for informational purposes only. See a professional health care provider if you are in need of medical care. This article is not a substitute for medical care.
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