Kidney Stones on the Rise

3 causes for the rise in kidney stones

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Kidney stones are becoming more prevalent, with the risk rising more quickly in women, younger adults – and even kids, experts say.

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Manoj Monga, MD, urologist and Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Endourology and Stone Disease, says kidney stones are also appearing in patients with historically low risks of stone disease.

“With the declining health of the American public, one of the symptoms is an increase in kidney stones,” says Dr. Monga. “Over the last five to 10 years, we’ve seen an increase in the prevalence of stones with more rapid increases among women and kids.”

The reasons kidney stones are on the rise offer ways to work toward prevention. Dr. Monga offers this advice:

1. Limit sodium

Poor diet and what people are eating has a well-documented link to kidney stone development, says Dr. Monga. Culprit number 1 is too much sodium, which leads to an increase in calcium in the urine. So keep the salt shaker off the table and avoid fast food, canned or processed foods. 

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2. Cut down on fructose

Dr. Monga says too much fructose — such as the high fructose corn syrup found in many processed foods — can also contribute to stone development. To help prevent kidney stones, he recommends limiting fructose intake.

3. Eat more citrus fruits

Adding more citrus fruits to your diet, such as lemons, oranges and melons, can help prevent kidney stones, according to Dr. Monga.

4. Stay well hydrated

When you’re not drinking enough fluids, your kidneys produce less urine, making your urine become more concentrated and more likely to develop stones, Dr. Monga says. Drink 10-12 cups of fluids, with at least half of that as water, and be sure to drink 1 cup of fluid before bedtime, he advises.

Maintaining proper hydration is even more critical in hot climates. In fact, one study at the University of Texas Southwest predicts that global warming will increase the risks of dehydration and stone disease in the future — as much as a 30 percent increase in some climates.

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5. Be active and maintain your weight

“As the obesity epidemic has continued in this country, so have the risks for kidney stones,” says Dr. Monga. Obesity is strongly correlated with diabetes — another kidney stone risk factor — and to the kinds of high-sodium processed foods that increase calcium in the urine.

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