Health Information

Reducing Your Risk of Kidney Stones

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Once a kidney stone has been removed or has passed on its own, the focus shifts to prevention—steps that you can take to minimize your chances of developing another stone. While your specific prevention strategy depends on what kind of kidney stone you had and why it developed, some general guidelines are outlined below.

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Watch your diet
  • Talk to your doctor about medications for prevention

One of the goals of preventive therapy is to keep your urine as dilute as possible. This helps to keep the substances that could potentially form a kidney stone, including calcium and oxalate, moving quickly through your urinary tract.

Try to drink at least two liters of fluids a day if you are an adult..

A good gauge of whether or not you are drinking enough fluids is urine color. Except for the first thing in the morning, it should be pale in color. If your urine is dark yellow, that's an indication that you should drink more fluids.

If you are hesitant to drink too much during the day because you have a bladder control problem, discuss this concern with your doctor.

Whether or not diet can help you avoid another kidney stone depends on what kind of stone you had and what caused it to form in the first place. If your stone was made up of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, or uric acid, what you eat or don't eat can help prevent a recurrence.

Note that these are only guidelines. People taking some kinds of medications may need to avoid certain foods. Always follow the advice of your doctor or registered dietitian in making any diet changes.

Nutrients to consider include:

  • Reduce your intake of dietary sodium. Some of these include:
    • Lunch meats and cured meats like ham, sausage, and bacon
    • Salted snacks
    • Prepared salad dressings, mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, and barbecue sauce
    • Pickled foods and olives
    • Canned soup and bouillon
  • Reduce your intake of animal protein. Animal protein includes meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.
  • Maintain proper calcium intake from food or calcium supplements.

If your kidney stones contained calcium oxalate, you may also need to avoid certain plant foods that bind with calcium and other minerals. If your body is not absorbing and using calcium correctly, you could end up with too much oxalate in your urine. You can reduce the level of oxalate in your system by avoiding these foods:

  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Chocolate
  • Wheat bran
  • Nuts
  • Beets
  • Brewed tea

Limit your intake of animal protein from meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.

Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. This may require more than the two liters recommended for other types of kidney stones. Talk to your doctor about what fluid intake you need.

There may be some medications that can help keep you from forming another kidney stone. It will depend on what kind of kidney stone you had and why it developed. Talk with your doctor to determine if there are any medications that may be helpful for your particular situation.

Revision Information

  • Borghi L, Meschi T, Maggiore U, Prati B. Dietary therapy in idiopathic nephrolithiasis. Nutr Rev . 2006;64:301-312.

  • Diet and kidney stones. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diet.cfm . Updated September 2011. Accessed April 17, 2013.

  • Kang DE, Sur RL, Haleblian GE, Fitzsimons NJ, Borawski KM, Preminger GM. Long-term lemonade based dietary manipulation in patients with hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis. J Urol . 2007 Apr;177(4):1358-62.

  • Kidney stones in adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/stonesadults/index.htm . Updated January 28, 2013. Accessed April 17, 2013.

  • Nephrolithiasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated March 22, 2013. Accessed April 17, 2013.

  • Siener R. Impact of dietary habits on stone incidence. Urol Res . 2006;34:131-133.