Kidney stones are a common health problem that affect more than half a million people annually. When urine has high levels of dissolved minerals and salts, stones may develop. These stones may start small and not cause any issues at first. However, some can grow larger in size and cause great kidney stone pain.
Depending on the size and quantity, stones typically take several weeks to a few months to pass. Here are some at-home remedies you can try to alleviate kidney stone pain and speed up the process of passing the stone(s):
Drinking plenty of fluids is crucial when it comes to passing kidney stones and preventing new stones from forming. By staying hydrated, the liquid will help flush out toxins and move stones through your urinary tract. Drinking enough fluids can also help dilute and increase the volume of the stone-forming substances in urine, making them less likely to crystallize.
Increase your citric acid intake
Citric acid is an organic acid and a natural component of many fruits and fruit juices. An easy way to consume more citric acid is to eat more citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, oranges, lemons, or limes. Citric acid may help protect a person against kidney stones by:
- Preventing stone formation: Citric acid makes urine less favorable for the formation of stones.
- Preventing stone enlargement: Citric acid helps prevent small stones from becoming bigger stones by binding with existing calcium oxalate crystals. This can help you pass stones before they turn into larger ones.
Skip high-oxalate foods
Oxalate is a compound found in many plant foods, including leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, and cocoa. It is also produced as a waste product by the body. However, too much oxalate can bind calcium and other minerals, which can form crystals that can lead to stone formation in some people. Some foods high in oxalate include:
- Dark green vegetables, such as spinach
Before changing your diet, consult your healthcare provider to find out whether you may benefit from limiting your intake of oxalate-rich foods.
Passing stones may cause some discomfort and pain. To relieve mild pain, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), naproxen sodium (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). These medications can help you endure the discomfort until the stone(s) pass.
Eat less animal protein
Consuming too much animal protein, such as meat, seafood, and eggs, can boost the level of uric acid. A high intake of animal protein may also increase calcium excretion and decrease levels of citrate, the chemical in urine that helps prevent stones from forming.
If you are experiencing severe pain in the lower abdomen or genitals, you should seek immediate medical attention. However, if you are experiencing mild pain, you may be able to pass the stone(s) on your own with these at-home remedies.
Kidney stones can start as a dull ache, but can quickly escalate to severe cramping or sharp, wincing pain. At Summit Medical Clinic, we provide consultation and ongoing care for the prevention and treatment of kidney-related diseases. If you are experiencing pain due to kidney stones, schedule an appointment by calling (719) 630-1006 or visiting our website.