You may have heard the myriad benefits of drinking plenty of water every day. If the daily water requirement is met, your overall health remains fit. However, there is no set limit to the level of water intake for a person because the hydration level varies from person to person. Your age, gender, living environment, and health condition are the major deciding factors of how much water to consume within a day. Water takes about 60% of the average adult human body. Many body organs cannot function properly if they are dehydrated. One such body organ that can suffer dire consequences is the kidney. In this article, we will discuss water’s importance for the treatment and prevention of kidney stones.
Importance of Water for Kidney Stone Patients
Kidneys enable the excretion of waste materials from the blood in the form of urine. These substances can become toxic if they remain in the body. If this natural mechanism of the body is disturbed, the dangerous chemicals gradually build up in the body. The longer you stay dehydrated, the lesser water available to the kidneys to flush out the wastes. Small volumes of urine cannot rid the body of all the harmful substances concentrating over time. Consequently, these tiny particles can accumulate into kidney stones in the ureter, urinary bladder, or kidneys.
According to research, kidney stones can formulate from components like calcium carbonate, calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, uric acid, and magnesium ammonium phosphate. Kidney stones are mostly only a few millimeters in size and usually can pass through the urine. However, if they grow bigger with prolonged dehydration, they can become extremely painful. The person may experience fever, nausea, pain while urinating or blood may appear in the urine. The lower back area or abdomen may ache. It is advisable to consult a doctor immediately to know the exact cause of pain. If the cause is kidney stones, the doctor can advise whether the stones can pass naturally with the stools or require further treatment.
Treatment and Prevention of Kidney Stones
According to the National Kidney Foundation, around half a million people seek medical help for kidney problems every year. One in every ten people has the likelihood to develop kidney stones in their lifetime. A salt-rich diet, obesity, family history, excess or lack of exercise, and dehydration are some of the major causes of kidney stones. Kidney stones can be treated with ureteroscopy, lithotripsy, nephrolithotripsy, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy. A doctor can properly diagnose the problem and recommend a suitable treatment method for kidney stones.
In most cases, kidney stones can be treated by maintaining proper levels of hydration. It is an inexpensive and effective method to treat kidney stones. Your doctor can tell you the exact level of water to drink to flush out the small stones with urine. However, you may have to wait patiently as it can take hours or even weeks for the stones to pass. In the meantime, the doctor can provide you medicine to relieve the pain as you increase your water consumption.
On average, an adult male should drink 3-3.7 liters of water while females are recommended 2.2 -2.7 liters of water. It is not necessary to hydrate yourself with water only, but it is preferred. The fruits (watermelon strawberries), vegetables (spinach, lettuce), and other beverages (milk, herbal teas, juices) you consume can also fulfill the daily fluid requirement. If your regular diet includes these foods and beverages, 2 liters of daily water consumption can suffice. If you maintain adequate levels of water daily, there is a lesser chance of kidney stones materializing.
Moreover, urine in large volumes will better flush out the harmful bacteria. Urine excretion below 1 liter a day can escalate the risk level of stone formation. Urinating 2 – 2.5 liters daily is considered healthy and can significantly prevent stones’ reappearance in patients with a history.
- People who have kidney stone problems have a 50% risk of redeveloping them. Therefore, removing salty foods from your diet (packaged meals, canned soups, sports drinks) and increasing citric fruits’ consumption can greatly help.
- Increase your water intake during the summer and autumn season. Kidney stones usually develop during these months. Adults are more prone to developing kidney stones, so they should take extra care. However, people of all ages can come across this problem.
- If you live in warmer regions or exercise vigorously, pay extra attention to your hydration level. The fluid levels can drop as a result of perspiration.
- Do not drink too much water all at once. It is better to increase the water intake by adding one glass each day or as much as possible.
- Do not blindly follow herbal remedies to prevent kidney stones. There is no concrete scientific evidence to support this claim.
- Animal-based protein diet can increase the acidic level in urine and thus the risk of kidney stone development. If you are up for losing weight, contact a licensed dietician for a better diet plan.