Approximately two-thirds of patients who have had one kidney stone are at risk for developing another in the future. Because of this high rate of recurrence, Mount Sinai physicians recommend a metabolic evaluation which includes stone analysis, blood, and urinary testing. We perform bone density measurements when needed. This evaluation can identify the source of problem in more than 90 percent of patients and can help us determine how you might be able to prevent future kidney stones.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent stones from forming (heredity does play a role), you can reduce your risk by modifying your diet. Here are some steps that you can take.
- Increase fluid intake to about two to three liters per day, depending on your activity level and rate of perspiration. Water is best, though citrus drinks such as lemonade and orange juice have also been shown to help prevent kidney stones.
- Limit salt/sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. Sodium causes the kidneys to excrete more calcium, which increases the chance of developing kidney stones. You can monitor sodium intake by reading food labels.
- Adjust calcium supplementation, which can affect formation of calcium oxalate stones. Calcium from food does not increase stones, but some studies have shown that supplements can affect formation of certain stones, if not taken with meals. Your doctor can advise you on the most appropriate calcium levels, if you have a history of forming calcium oxalate stones.
- Reduce animal protein to no more than six ounces a day. Meats and other animal protein, like eggs and fish, can encourage formation of uric acid stones because they contain purines. Reducing meat consumption can decrease the risk of uric acid stones, especially if you have already had them.
- Avoid foods high in oxalate. People who are more likely to form calcium oxalate stones should avoid foods high in oxalate such as beets, spinach, many types of berries, sweet potatoes, soy, nuts, chocolate, brewed tea, and colas.
- Consult a dietician for more individualized advice. If you are prone to developing kidney stones, a dietician with expertise in kidney stone prevention may help you identify foods to limit or avoid. We will develop an individualized treatment plan, depending on the type of stones you have had.