For those who have ever suffered from kidney stones, you simply can't forget the unbearable pain when the stones are trying to pass through the urinary track. So what exactly are kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when salts in the urine become concentrated and begin to form crystals. These crystals vary in size and can range from tiny particles to larger masses (stones). There are four different types of kidney stones:

Calcium stones: The most common type that is formed when calcium combines with phosphate or oxalate.

Struvite stones: Usually large and horn shaped, can be caused by urine infections.

Uric acid stones: They are stones made of uric acid. This type is habitually softer than other types of kidney stones.

Cystine stones: These are made of a compound called cysteine. Cystine stones are very rare and are mainly hereditary.Kidney-Stones-display

Kidney stones can easily be prevented through certain lifestyle changes.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking plenty of water is important as it dilutes salts in urine that lead to formation of stones and also helps flushing out any tiny crystals before they can join to form stones. It is recommended that one drinks at least 2 liters of water every day.

Reduce Sodium Intake

High sodium intake is likely to trigger formation of kidney stones due to high amounts of calcium in urine. Even if you have already begun feeling pain in the kidneys, one of the signs of kidney stones, it is advisable to reduce your sodium intake to prevent the growth of the existing stones. Recommended daily sodium intake is up to 2,300mg.

Cut down on Animal Protein and Other Stone Forming Foods

Indulging in too much animal protein like poultry, red meat and eggs will increase levels of uric acid which will likely lead to kidney stones. In addition, increased animal protein intake will result in reduction of citrate levels in the kidneys. Citrate is an important chemical in preventing the formation of kidney stones.

Stone forming foods are foods that are likely to trigger the formation of kidney stones. These are foods that are rich in oxalates and phosphates. Common examples include nuts, chocolate, spinach, tea and some others. Consuming these foods in moderation can do only good to your health; it’s only when you start to consume too much of them that may trigger the formation of kidney stones.

What to Do When You’ve Got Kidney Stones?

Small kidney stones usually pass out on their own causing a certain amount of discomfort. However, when you begin to feel lots of pain, you need to go to the doctor who will recommend medication to help break down the stones. The type of medication depends on the size and type of stones. For large kidney stones that are blocking the urinary track, you will need one of the types of surgery for kidney stones.