Reduce your risk of kidney stones

John Lieske, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic

Kidney stones are on the rise, but that doesn’t mean you have to get one.

John Lieske, a professor of medicine at Mayo, said there are some ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.

There are genetic, dietary, and environmental components to kidney stones, he said.

Seventy to 80 percent of all kidney stones are calcium oxalate stones, which form when a person consumes a lot of calcium and little in the way of liquids.

"Of all the factors you can look at, calcium metabolism is something that you can clearly pass along," Lieske said.


However, consuming a diet rich in calcium — or working in a field where water consumption is restricted, like surgery or even taxi driving — contributes to this type of stone.

"Get plenty of fluids to make your urine more dilute," Lieske said.

Those at risk can also make sure to get a normal amount of calcium from foods, and avoid calcium supplements. Do not cut calcium consumption dramatically — the mineral is still part of a healthy diet.

Excessive salt and protein also impact how the kidneys handle the calcium consumed, Lieske said.

In a February study, Mayo Clinic researcher examined first-time patients with kidney stones from Olmsted County and found an increase in the number detected. Women between ages 18 and 39 had the highest increase in kidney stones.

The rise in kidney stones may partly be because they’re now easier to detect, Lieske said. Better imaging technology means more diagnoses.

However, weight gain and obesity are also linked to kidney stones.

Men have always had more kidney stones than women, Lieske said, but their rates used to be two to three times higher. Now the ratio is about three to two, men versus women.


Lieske said most people with kidney stones present with acute attacks, go to the emergency room or hospital, and either pass the stone or have it removed.

"When you have had two more more attacks, that would be a reason to be seen or worked up," he added.

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