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Kidney Stones - Symptoms, Types, Prevention and Foods to Avoid

The Author’s Kidney Stone Experience

My first kidney stone “episode” was about 15 years ago. Let’s just say I remember it like it was yesterday. Since then, I have had additional episodes (which are very common), but although they all have been very painful, nothing can take the place of the first time I thought I was literally going to die. Of course, the first time, I had no idea what was happening to me which made the whole experience even more frightening.

Eventually, I did laugh about it, especially when I compared my kidney stone pain to the pain of giving birth. You can read about it in an article I wrote years ago:

Kidney Stones vs. Pain of Childbirth: Is There Really a Comparison?

kidney-stones-and-foods-to-avoid
YES - a kidney stone this small can cause unbearable pain.

YES - a kidney stone this small can cause unbearable pain.

What is a Kidney Stone?

Kidney stones are tiny, hard “pebble-like” deposits that form in the kidneys. They are made of mineral and acid salts. From the kidneys to your bladder, these stones can affect any part of the urinary tract. In most cases, the stones form when urine becomes concentrated. This causes the minerals to stick together and crystallize.

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Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Typically, kidney stones show no symptoms until they move into a position that blocks the flow of urine.

The first sign of blockage would be pain in your back and side below the ribs, lower abdomen and/or down into the groin area. You may be nauseated and feel like vomiting. It’s possible that you also feel a strong urge to urinate and when you are able to, you might see blood in the urine.

In some cases, an infection may be present causing additional symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Painful urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Foul-smelling urine

Important Note: These symptoms can also be signs of other urinary health issues. Be sure to see your doctor for a complete evaluation.

kidney-stones-and-foods-to-avoid

I Have a Kidney Stone – Now What?

Most kidney stones eventually pass naturally through the urinary tract and cause no permanent damage. Again, please be sure to see your doctor for an evaluation.

Blocked kidneys for an extensive period of time can be extremely serious and life threatening. If you are having kidney stone episodes, drink lots of water and take pain medication if necessary until the stone passes.

From experience, I have found that walking (pacing), helps alleviate some of the anxiety associated with the pain and I believe, it can help the stone move out of its current position, allowing urine to flow again.

kidney-stones-and-foods-to-avoid

Causes and Types of Kidney Stones

Causes

Kidney stones often have no definite, single cause, although several factors may increase your risk.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, “kidney stones form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances — such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid — than the fluid in your urine can dilute.”

Types

Determining the type of kidney stone can help clarify the cause and give an understanding of how to reduce the risk of future kidney stones. Common types of kidney stones include:

  1. Calcium stones - this is the most common type of stone formed from calcium oxalate.
  2. Struvite stones – this type forms in response to an infection.
  3. Uric acid stones – these stones typically form in people who do not drink enough fluids, lose too much fluid, eat a high-protein diet or have gout.
  4. Cystine stones – this type of stone is caused by a hereditary disorder that causes too much excretion of certain amino acids.
kidney-stones-and-foods-to-avoid

Proper Diet to Reduce the Risk of Kidney Stones

Since the most common type of kidney stone is formed from calcium oxalate, it is recommended that those affected eat a low oxalate diet.

Although the liver naturally produces oxalate, high levels usually occur due to the intake of certain foods. Additionally, high doses of Vitamin D, metabolic disorders and dietary factors may increase the concentration of oxalate or calcium in the urine.

One of the easiest ways to possibly prevent future kidney stones is to abstain from foods that have high oxalate levels. Below is a list of foods to either avoid or consume in moderation.

Foods to Avoid if You Have a History of Kidney Stones

Compiled through research by Sharyn's Slant

FruitsVegetablesWheat & Other GrainsChocolate, Coffee & TeaSoy, Nuts & Legumes

kiwi

spinach

whole wheat/ wheat bran

chocolate/ chocolate products

soy products

lemons

rhubarb

wheat products e.g. dark beer

hot chocolate

tofu

limes

beets

barley

Ovaltine

soy milk

tamarillos

parsley

rye

cocoa

peanuts

tangerines

peppers

amaranth

chocolate milk

all nuts

gooseberries

potatoes

 

instant coffee

sesame seeds

raspberries

rutabaga

 

black tea

legumes/beans

blackberries

summer squash

 

 

baked beans

blueberries

sweet potato

 

 

green beans

dewberries

swiss chard

 

 

kidney beans

elderberries

collard greens

 

 

 

currents

chicory

 

 

 

grapes

kale

 

 

 

figs

escarole

 

 

 

juices from above fruits

okra

 

 

 

 

zuchinni

 

 

 

 

carrots

 

 

 

 

leeks

 

 

 

 

olives

 

 

 

 

celery

 

 

 

 

eggplant

 

 

 

kidney-stones-and-foods-to-avoid
Kidney stones come in many different sizes..

Kidney stones come in many different sizes..

Final Thoughts

I am not a doctor or a medical specialist. I am a writer and, unfortunately, a "kidney stone survivor."

It is recommended that people with a history of kidney stones have regular check ups with their physician to obtain professional diagnosis, advice and treatment. Best wishes!

This is Sharyn's Slant

Comments

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 12, 2014:

I agree poetryman! And it's a lot of foods that I like unfortunately. Thank you so much for stopping by!

poetryman6969 on September 01, 2014:

I would not have thought there was so much that one should avoid.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 26, 2013:

Hey cre8ivOne ~ thanks for stopping back. Sometimes, people compare the pain of a kidney stone to the pain of giving birth. So maybe the timing of your husband's first kidney stone episode was a "symbol" of what you had just gone through. That'll teach him, ha.

Seriously, keep knocking on wood. I'm sure you don't want him to go through that pain. Take care,

Sharyn

cre8ivOne from Midwest, USA on February 26, 2013:

Thanks! He has put me through a time, started having his first kidney stone when our first born was about 3 weeks old! We have been lucky the past few years, knocking on wood!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 26, 2013:

Hi cre8ivOne ~ Wow, I feel so bad for your hubby. Ending up in the hospital because of kidney stones is awful. I do understand there are different treatment options depending on the size of the stone. I was as a point where I had surgery scheduled and then passed the stone just a day before. Thanks so much for your feedback. Good luck to your husband.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 24, 2013:

Hi Susan ~ Definitely feel blessed to not have kidney stones. And yes, the list of foods to avoid is extensive. I don't always avoid things on the list which is not a good thing. I need to try harder to avoid things, especially foods like nuts and beans. Thanks for your feedback.

Sharyn

cre8ivOne from Midwest, USA on February 24, 2013:

My husband is had SEVERAL kidney stones, some with complications some without. He had two years in a row where he spent a solid week in the hospital from surgery complications because the stones were too large. This is something you could add to your hub, when a stone gets too large, because there are different options how to treat this. Great and informative. I will pass the food list on to my husband. :)

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on February 24, 2013:

Never having had kidney stones I can only imagine how painful they are. I'm really surprised at the long list of foods you need to avoid.

Excellent hub SS.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 18, 2013:

Hi Tammy ~ yup, ouch! I've never heard of something like Accutaine causing kidney stones. Thanks for sharing this with your son who unfortunately has had kidney stone episodes. I appreciate you stopping by.

Sharyn

Tammy from North Carolina on February 17, 2013:

Ouch! I haven't had kidney stones, but my son has. He took Accutaine for acne and it caused serious kidney stones. The poor child was on the floor in agony and was still a teenager. I can't imagine how painful it is. I will share this list of foods to avoid as he is still suseptible. Excellent information that should save many from pain!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 17, 2013:

Hi Michelle ~ yeah, kidney stones are no fun. Thank you so much for sharing this information to others.

Sharyn

Michelle Liew from Singapore on February 17, 2013:

Sharon, wow. I am sorry that you had to go through this. Kudos for being able to share it in spite of the difficulties it posed! Will share so that others will benefit from the knowledge.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 12, 2013:

Hi Mo ~ I'm so glad you found this informative. And I also hope you never have to experience kidney stones either. Drink lots of water always :) Thank you so much for your feedback and shares too.

Sharyn

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on February 10, 2013:

Hi Sharon, what a great hub, this is truly informative and helpful. I hope I never ever have to know what it is like to experience kidney stone pain.

Shared and voted up

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 09, 2013:

Hi Pras ~ I don't wish kidney stones on anyone. They are not a fun experience. I do hope that the information here is helpful in their prevention. Thank you so much for your kind feedback.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 09, 2013:

Hi RTalloni ~ oh my gosh. Could you imagine if they did a mistaken appendectomy, wow. Thank goodness that didn't happen. Thanks so much for your feedback and pin. I'll have to check out Stone Free.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 09, 2013:

Hi Vicki ~ I was very surprised too about some of the foods to avoid. Truly, some are my favorites. Thanks for your feedback, votes and shares.

Sharyn

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on February 08, 2013:

Very inspiring hub related with kidney stone. I hope we can learn together from your experience and preventing before it happened to us. Sharyn, you also come up with solution, in the advice section (Proper Diet to Reduce the Risk of Kidney Stones). I hope you always healthy...amen.

Best wishes, Prasetio

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 07, 2013:

Hi Mary ~ wow, your story is scary. I just went to your hub to check it out and comment. It's a great hub. I love your subtle reminders to drink water, ha. I know a lengthy blockage can be extremely dangerous. It's encouraging to hear that you are doing well with one kidney. Thank you so much for your feedback. I see we have some things in common.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 07, 2013:

Hi CC ~ Yup, I'm a "survivor." ha I'm glad that you are not. Thanks for stopping by.

Sharyn

RTalloni on February 07, 2013:

You've provided a good look at kidney stones and how to avoid them. After a trip to the ER (and nearly having an unneeded appendectomy) I began using a product called Stone Free that has been very helpful.

Pinning to my Solve It board.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on February 07, 2013:

Great hub! I'm surprised about some of the foods on the list to avoid. You poor "kidney stone survivor"! LOL Voted up and more! Sharing!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on February 07, 2013:

Very useful and informational Hub. I lost my right kidney due to a huge staghorn stone that prevented the kidney from functioning. I wrote a Hub about my experience on that one, too.

I do very well with just one kidney, but I drink LOTS of water and stay away from foods that contribute to stones.

Voted UP, etc.

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on February 07, 2013:

Wow. That sounds scary. I haven't had a kidney stone before but it sounds positively unpleasant. So sorry that you're a "survivor" - whew!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 06, 2013:

Hi mperrottet ~ Wow, your friend has been through a lot. Kidney stones can be extremely serious and cause renal failure if they totally block the ureter for a long time. Even though I did not end up having surgery when it was scheduled (because I finally passed the stone), I was told that both ultrasound and laser surgery were not an option because of where the stone was located. Thank goodness I passed it. I hope everything goes well with your friend. I appreciate your feedback and votes.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 06, 2013:

Hi DDE ~ You are welcome. I hope you learned a lot from this information. Thanks for stopping by.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 06, 2013:

Hi lemonkerdz ~ I rarely drink carbonated beverages (and never beer) so I'm glad about that :) I've never heard of "solidago complex." Well, I guess I should say I've also never heard of the Goldenrod plant. I'm glad to hear that this remedy has helped you remain kidney stone free. I will check it out. Thank you so much for your feedback.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 06, 2013:

Hi thekatydid ~ thank you SO much for detailing the natural remedy you found for your husband. I'm going to copy and paste it here again for a better chance for readers to see it:

'at the first sign of a kidney stone attack, take 1 magnesium/calcium tablet, 1 Vit C, and 1 B Complex'.

And you also explained that your son had kidney stones and was told to take a Vitamin B Complex daily and he has not had stone episodes since (for at least 10 years).

That is awesome information and I so appreciate you sharing your experience. Thank you!

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 06, 2013:

Hi CarNoobz ~ Interesting that your dad's doctor diagnosed a problem with a gland in his throat to be the cause of his kidney stones. I have never heard of that potential issue. I will have to check it out. Thanks so much for your feedback.

Sharyn

Margaret Perrottet from San Antonio, FL on February 06, 2013:

I have a dear friend who had to be rushed to the emergency room because she had a stone that completely blocked her ureter. She had gone through ultrasound treatment, but the stone hadn't broken up adequately, and so now she'll need to go through laser surgery. Hopefully there will be no complications. You've done a good job covering this topic - let's hope you never have any more stones. Voted up and useful.

lemonkerdz from LIMA, PERU on February 06, 2013:

Kidney stones are a terrible thing to have to deal with. i had stones and the advise i got was to keep off carbonated drinks. i have also been using "solidago complex" which is a natural extract from the plant, Goldenrod, and has work a treat for more than a decade and no pain involved. Thanks for the informative hub.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 06, 2013:

It is a painful experience too and thanks for sharing your experience, kidney stones can be prevented an did most helpful to know more on the problem.

lemonkerdz from LIMA, PERU on February 06, 2013:

Thanks for the comrehensive hub, i have had problems for years with kidney stones. One thing to avoid is carbonated waters, especially fizzy pop and beer, or at least cut it down. My fail proof remedy which is natural and completely dissolves the stones is "solidago complex"it is an extract from the Goldenrod plant. it has saved me a lot of pain.

thanks for the Info

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 05, 2013:

Hi Vicki ~ oh YES, horror stories. Sorry to hear that you have also experienced kidney stones to the extent that you needed surgery. So I see you understand. But I'm so glad to hear you have not experienced another episode. Drink that water and "knock on wood" as much as necessary. Thank you so much for your feedback. Take care,

Sharyn

Kay Comer from Metropolis, Illinois on February 05, 2013:

My husband had kidney stone attacks for years until I finally came up with a remedy to take the pain away. I've studied natural healing and living since 1977 and I'm always looking for a natural cure for things. I found his 'cure' for the pain about 20 years ago in one of my old books and it said 'at the first sign of a kidney stone attack, take 1 magnesium/calcium tablet, 1 Vit C, and 1 B Complex'. So on his next attack I was ready and we tried these things...chewing up the mag/cal and vit c and drinking hot coffee after giving him all of the above. His pain always subsided within 30 minutes and on occasion it was really bad. THEN our son started having kidney stone attacks and he won't try anything natural and went to a urologist who told him if he takes Vit B Complex daily he will never have another kidney stone attack. That was about 10 years ago and he hasn't had an attack since. Now these things may not work for all, but they have sure worked for us. Very interesting and informative hub Sharyn...thanks for posting.

CarNoobz from USA on February 04, 2013:

My dad has had kidney stones the past few years. Finally his doc checked some little gland in his throat that regulates the body's calcium levels in the blood. that turned out to be the problem. Crazy.

Good hub. voted up

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Stephanie ~ Low oxalate diets are no fun. For me, I was sent to a dietician to discuss a low oxalate diet and I was sad when I left. I couldn't believe how many things I really like and enjoy that were on the list. I find it difficult to stick to it unfortunately. I'm hoping that by writing this, it's a huge reminder to me as well. Good luck to your husband. I don't wish kidney stones on anyone. Thanks for your feedback.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Eddy ~ thank you for coming by to read and comment. I hope you have never experienced kidney stones. Take care,

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Pamela ~ Thanks for your feedback. I do hope this information helps others who suffer from kidney stones, including myself :) I appreciate you stopping by.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Lela ~ Wow, I never heard of the "kidney stone belt." Interesting that your kidney stone episodes were gone when you lived in Hawaii and then returned when you moved to Texas. I know for sure that I need to drink more water. I do for awhile and then I forget about it. And I'll check into the magnesium supplements as well. Anything that helps stop the stones from forming and causing awful pain sounds good to me. Thanks so much for your great feedback.

Sharyn

Vickiw on February 03, 2013:

Horror stories! I had one years ago, and the pain was incredible. Had to have it removed with surgery. The urologist told me to always drink lots of water. I haven't had one since, touch wood.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 03, 2013:

Hi Leslie ~ Oh yeah, that first episode was horrible. I had no idea what was going on. Of course, once I was at the emergency room, they diagnosed a kidney stone very quickly. I did not pass it/them for weeks the first time. Went to a urologist several times, had IVP's done, and actually had surgery scheduled (which was the only option since the stone was far down at this point). I finally passed it the day before surgery. What an ordeal. I've had episodes since then. It's been a couple years at this point so I'm knocking on wood as I am typing. I'm curious how you know you have "seven stones waiting?" Good luck to you too!

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 02, 2013:

Hi Alex ~ well I am glad that you found this information useful and appreciate you stopping by. Thank you,

Sharyn

Stephanie Henkel from USA on February 02, 2013:

My husband has a problem with kidney stones and has been on a low oxalate diet for about a year. It's not an easy diet to stick to as the list of foods to avoid is so extensive. As he says, "If it tastes good or if I like it, then it's not on my diet!" Drinking lots of water helps a lot, and he does stick to bottled water.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 02, 2013:

A very interesting hub Sharyn ;I vote up and share.

Eddy.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 02, 2013:

Excellent hub. I have seen patients with kidney stones, and they sure are painful. Your covered this topic very thoroughly and I'm sure this information will help those that are more prone to getting these stones.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on February 01, 2013:

Urinary stones are nothing to laugh at. They really hurt! There is an actual "kidney stone belt" in the Southern and Southeastern United States. This leads me to believe it's the minerals in the water we drink rather than the food we eat. When I lived in Hawaii, I had no stones at all. When I moved back to Texas (part of the stone belt), I developed stones again.

So yes, do drink a lot of water to keep the solids in suspension, but be sure that it is purified water with salts and minerals removed if possible.

Also, for Calcium Oxalate stones, you can take magnesium supplements which help keep stones from forming.

Karen Silverman on January 31, 2013:

Excellent Sharyn...I know only too well about the first stone..I was sure my kidney was trying to leave my body..I almost died in LA because of a stuck stone..operated..came home with ten inch stent in my ureter..right now there are seven stones just..waiting..its been three years since: had one..thankfully..good luck hon...I hipe you never suffer another one..

Alex Longsword from Nicaragua on January 31, 2013:

Today I heard someone being diagnosed with kidney stone. I was wondering to research for it. Thanks for the information. It is a useful hub.

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