The most important thing you can do to prevent kidney and ureteral stones is drink lots of fluids. Drinking fluids helps you pass more urine, which is important in preventing stones. Most doctors will recommend that you pass about 2.5 liters (2.6 quarts) of urine every day to keep your urinary tract flushed. The amount of fluid you'll need to drink to pass that much urine depends on factors such as how hot and dry the climate is and how much you exercise. For most people, drinking 2 to 3 liters (one half to two thirds of a gallon) of fluid every day should be enough. If you're at high risk of forming stones, your doctor may recommend you measure your urine output for a while to make sure you're making enough. The color of your urine should help you know whether you're drinking enough fluids. Urine should be light and clear. If your urine is dark or cloudy, you probably need to increase your fluids.
There are other lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing stones:
- Reduce oxalate-rich foods - If you have had calcium oxalate stones (which are the most common form), limiting or eliminating certain foods can help reduce your risk for stone formation. Some of those foods are spinach, Swiss chard, rhubarb, nuts, wheat germ, soy products, sweet potatoes, beets, chocolate and tea.
- Eat less animal protein - Cut down on animal protein, such as meat, eggs and fish, and increase your intake of non-animal protein, such as beans and legumes.
- Reduce sodium intake - A diet low in sodium can help you reduce your risk of forming stones. Most processed foods have a lot of sodium, so limiting those can help.
- Eat calcium rich foods, but limit calcium supplements - It's important to eat calcium-rich foods unless your doctor tells you not to. But ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements. If you need supplemental calcium, be sure to take it with food.
- Control your weight - Since being overweight is a risk factor for stone disease, take steps to keep your weight at an optimal level. If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about healthy ways to lose weight.
Since diet regulation is such an important part of preventing kidney and ureteral stones, you may want to meet with a dietician who can help you understand all of the foods you should avoid and make sure you're getting enough protein from non-animal, non-soy sources.
Medications may also be an option
There are medications that can sometimes help prevent different types of stones from forming. The type of medication your doctor prescribes will depend on the type of stones you're likely to form. For example, a diuretic may help prevent calcium stones, and antibiotics may help prevent struvite stones.
If you have a history of kidney or ureter stones, ask your doctor if medications are right for you.
Learn more about kidney stones