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Kidney stones - self-care

Renal calculi and self-care; Nephrolithiasis and self-care; Stones and kidney - self-care; Calcium stones and self-care; Oxalate stones and self-care; Uric acid stones and self-care

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Kidney pain

Description

A kidney stone is a solid mass made up of tiny crystals. Your health care provider may ask you to take self-care steps to treat kidney stones or prevent them from returning.

What to Expect at Home

You visited your provider or the hospital because you have a kidney stone. You will need to take self-care steps. Which steps you take depend on the type of stone you have, but they may include:

You may be asked to try to catch your kidney stone. You can do this by collecting all of your urine and straining it. Your provider will tell you how to do this.

What is a Kidney Stone?

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in a kidney. A stone can get stuck as it leaves the kidney. It can lodge in one of your two ureters (the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder), the bladder, or the urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder to outside your body).

Kidney stones may be the size of sand or gravel, as large as a pearl, or even larger. A stone can block the flow of your urine and cause great pain. A stone may also break loose and travel through your urinary tract all the way out of your body without causing too much pain.

There are four major types of kidney stones.

Fluids

Drinking a lot of fluid is important for treating and preventing all types of kidney stones. Staying hydrated (having enough fluid in your body) will keep your urine diluted. This makes it harder for stones to form.

Limit your coffee, tea, and cola to 1 or 2 cups (250 or 500 milliliters) a day. Caffeine may cause you to lose fluid too quickly, which can make you dehydrated.

Diet and Calcium Stones

Follow these guidelines if you have calcium kidney stones:

Do not take extra calcium or vitamin D, unless the provider who is treating your kidney stones recommends it.

Ask your provider before taking vitamin C or fish oil. They may be harmful to you.

If your provider says you have calcium oxalate stones, you may also need to limit foods that are high in oxalate. These foods include:

Diet and Uric Acid Stones

Avoid these foods if you have uric acid stones:

Other suggestions for your diet include:

If you are losing weight, lose it slowly. Quick weight loss may cause uric acid stones to form.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if you have:

Related Information

Lithotripsy
Percutaneous kidney procedures
Cystinuria
Gout
Kidney stones
Bladder stones
Percutaneous urinary procedures - discharge
Hypercalcemia - discharge
Kidney stones and lithotripsy - discharge
Kidney stones - what to ask your doctor

References

Bushinsky DA. Nephrolithiasis.In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 117.

Leavitt DA, de la Rossette JJMCH, Hoenig DM. Strategies for nonmedical management of upper  urinary tract calculi. In: Partin AW, Dmochowski RR, Kavoussi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 93.

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Review Date: 8/10/2020  

Reviewed By: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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