Roughly half of those who have had one kidney stone will form another. Our goal is to minimize your risk of forming another kidney stone.
What Makes a Kidney Stone?
A kidney stone is formed from the minerals in your urine. When the minerals in your urine are too concentrated, crystals form and grow, eventually growing into a stone. Stones can grow quickly in very concentrated urine or over many years in more dilute urine.
The most common crystals contain calcium combined with another mineral. Calcium stones comprise 85% of all stones. Many stones are a combination of these crystals. Other kinds of stones exist, but are obviously not common. The only way to know for certain what the composition of your stones are is to have your stones analyzed by crystallography, identifying the type and relative percentage of different kinds of crystals within the stone. Knowing what kind of stone you have helps determine what prevention strategies to employ.
How Do I prevent Kidney Stones?
The essential principle of kidney stone prevention is: if the urine is less concentrated, crystals are less likely to form, reducing the risk of forming a stone.
Your goal is to make your urine less concentrated. Simply drinking more fluid may be enough. Water is best, but it’s not the only fluid that prevents stones. Fortunately, there is evidence that suggests that almost any fluid will help prevent kidney stones by diluting the urine because the most common element in any fluid is water.
Unfortunately, simply drinking more fluid may not be enough. Your urine still may be too concentrated in some minerals. To test that we have you collect 24-hour urine samples. We also check blood samples to verify that the blood levels are normal.
What’s a 24-hour urine collection?
We use 24-hour urine samples to determine how concentrated your urine is over time. You collect your urine at home, precisely 24 hours’ worth, in a container that we provide. The containers are brought back to our office where they are analyzed for the concentration of minerals.
Once the urine has been analyzed, reviewing the information is best done in our clinic with one of our specialists to come up with a strategy to prevent stones. Sometimes a dietary change is enough, but other times medication may be required in order to change the mineral concentration in your urine enough to prevent stone formation.