December 05, 2017
Passing kidney stones is known to be extremely painful, which is why they can easily put someone out of work, ruin his or her week, and make it hard to go about normal activities. Of course, you want to diminish your kidney stone symptoms quickly because they’re agonizing and uncomfortable to live with, but perhaps even more importantly is because untreated kidney stones can at times cascade into worsened kidney function all together.
Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract, and every year more than a million people visit their doctors in the U.S. alone in order to find help relieving their kidney stones. It’s estimated that one in 10 people will deal with a painful kidney stone at one point in their lives.
What exactly are kidney “stones”? They’re small, hard deposits that develop inside of your kidneys made from materials you naturally always have present in your body. They can wind up blocking the normal flow of urine, causing pain in your bladder as it swells and urine to become abnormally concentrated with minerals as they accumulate and can’t be passed.
While most kidney stones won’t leave behind permanent damage once they’re passed, some can. Unresolved kidney stones can develop into kidney damage and even kidney failure in some cases, which is considered a very serious and life-threatening condition that requires emergency surgery. If you suspect you’re experiencing kidney stone symptoms — like pain, throbbing and trouble going to the bathroom — read on to learn some of the best kidney stone natural remedies, plus how to best prevent them from returning in the future.
The kidneys are bean-shaped, fist-sized, small organs that sit in the middle of your back below your rib cage. They’re important organs for draining waste, excess fluids and urine from the body. The kidneys connect to the urinary tract, including the two ureters, bladder and urethra.
Amazingly, every single day they filter through the body’s blood supply to produce about one to two quarts of urine, which is eliminated through the tube called the urethra.
Kidney stones symptoms can include:
Sometimes stones won’t be painful until they reach a certain size or start moving around in your kidneys. Who’s most at risk for experiencing these symptoms? Statistics show that people likely to deal with kidney stones include:
5 Natural Remedies for Controlling Kidney Stone Symptoms
For the majority of people, passing kidney stones successfully happens over the course of waiting a few days (although likely with lots of pain in the process), but there are several ways you can speed this removal up and then prevent kidney stones from returning.
1. Stay Hydrated
Not drinking enough fluids can put you at risk for kidney stones, especially if you exercise a lot, live in a hot climate, drink diuretic beverages and sweat a lot. Drinking enough water and plenty of hydrating fluids (like herbal tea or fruit-infused water) is even more important if you have a sodium-heavy diet. While fluid intake varies depending on your size, diet, location and how much you work out, try to drink about eight ounces every hour ideally.
2. Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet
If you eat a generally poor diet — one low in nutrients, electrolytes, antioxidants and a mix of carbs, healthy fats and appropriate amounts of protein — you’re at an increased risk for developing kidney stone symptoms. Eating a very salty or high-protein diet, above your actual protein needs or about 30 percent of your diet, can result in an increase of ammonia in the urine.
Focus on fresh foods, or “eating the sunlight” in order to balance the body's pH and prevent too much acidity.
Here are some of the top foods for helping prevent kidney stones:
On the other hand, here are some foods that can contribute to kidney stone symptoms:
3. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercises like strength training or various bodyweight exercises, is good for building bone strength and preventing demineralization of your skeletal system. On the other hand, being sedentary can cause bones to release more calcium into the blood, which increases the odds of it accumulating in the kidneys. Sneak more exercise into your day by trying exercise hacks like walking to work, sitting on a stability ball and doing squats during commercials when watching TV.
4. Castor Oil Packs and Hot Compresses
Castor oil has special anti-inflammatory abilities that are useful for relieving pain associated with kidney stone symptoms, like cramping or muscle spasms in the abdomen. You can buy a castor oil pack or make your own by soaking a clean towel in pure castor oil, pressing it onto the kidneys and allowing it to seep into the skin.
Similarly, try pressing a hot compress over the kidneys several times per day to increase blood flow, relax tense muscles and help stones pass more easily. You can soak a towel in hot vinegar to make this even more effective for dulling pain, such as using a 50:50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water.
5. Supplements that Can Help Reduce Kidney Stones
Several supplements that are beneficial if you regularly develop kidney stone symptoms include:
The Most Common Causes Of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are made of clusters of minerals, acids and salts in the body that bind to one another inside the kidneys, becoming lodged and sometimes blocking the urinary tract, giving you intense pressure and pain when you try going to the bathroom. Kidney stones form when your urine contains a high level of crystal-forming substances, while at the same time too little of the substances you need to break up crystals and flush minerals from the body. This perfect storm creates the ideal environment for kidney stone formation.
About 80 percent of kidney stones are the type known as calcium stones, which means calcium that’s normally present in the body combines with other substances (oxalates, phosphate or carbonate) to form an abnormally hard stone. In most cases, oxalates are the substance that calcium binds to, which we acquire from certain fruits and vegetables that naturally carry them.
While calcium stones are much more common, sometimes kidney stones can also be caused by the buildup of other acidic salts, such as uric acid. Besides calcium stones, other types of kidney stones include: struvite stones, uric acid stones or cystine stones (the type most tied to hereditary factors).
Once a kidney stone forms, it can wind up attaching itself to sites that block the urinary tract, which is usually the primary reason for feeling such intense pain. For some people, struvite stones (the type that are “horn-shaped,” larger than calcium stones and usually more dangerous) form due to chronic urinary tract infections, which is more common in women than in men.
One reason urinary infections can keep developing and forming stones is due to a buildup of ammonia in the urine. Uric acid stones, a byproduct of protein metabolism, can develop in people who are eating a very high-protein diet, those who are recovering from chemotherapy treatments or in rare cases because of genetic factors.
Sometimes the pain can subside, and therefore it might seem like the kidney stone dissolved on its own and is no longer an issue — however this can be problematic because that’s not always the case. In some cases, the blockage hasn’t actually been resolved even though pain has faded and the kidney actually starts to shut down, which left untreated by a doctor can lead to permanent loss of function in that kidney within just a short period. A kidney stone can even rupture if it remains for too long, which is another cause kidney failure.
With an estimated 10 percent of the population dealing with kidney stones at some point, there are few conditions more common. The reasons vary from genetics to diet to allergies, weight, dehydration, pH levels and more.
No matter the reason, there are five main things you can do to curb your kidney stone symptoms and treat painful kidney stones: stay hydrated, eat a nutrient-dense diet, get regular exercise, try castor oil packs and hot compresses, and add beneficial supplements.
If you try these five kidney stone treatments, you’re sure to relieve your kidney stone symptoms and prevent future stones from forming.
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