You may reduce your risk of kidney stones if you:
• Drink water throughout the day. Drink more water throughout the day. For people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend passing about 2.6 quarts (2.5 liters) of urine a day. Your doctor may ask that you measure your urine output to ensure that you're drinking enough water. People who live in hot, dry climates and those who exercise frequently may need to drink even more water to produce enough urine.
• Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods. If you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, your doctor may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalates. These include rhubarb, beets, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, tea, chocolate and soy products.
• Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein. Reduce the amount of salt you eat and choose nonanimal protein sources, such as nuts and legumes. This may help reduce your chance of developing kidney stones.
• Continue eating calcium-rich foods, but use caution with calcium supplements. The calcium in the food you eat doesn't have an effect on your risk of kidney stones. Continue eating calcium-rich foods unless your doctor advises otherwise. Ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements, though, as these have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones. You may reduce the risk by taking supplements with meals.
Ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian who can help you plan meals that will help reduce your risk of kidney stones.
Medications can control the level of acidity or alkalinity in your urine and may be helpful in people who form certain kinds of stones. The type of medication your doctor prescribes will depend on the kind of kidney stones you have:
• Calcium stones. To help prevent calcium stones from forming, your doctor may prescribe a thiazide diuretic or a phosphate-containing preparation.
• Uric acid stones. Your doctor may prescribe allopurinol (Zyloprim, Aloprim) to reduce uric acid levels in your blood and urine and a medicine to keep your urine alkaline. In some cases, allopurinol and an alkalinizing agent may dissolve the uric acid stones.
• Struvite stones. To prevent struvite stones, your doctor may recommend strategies to keep your urine free of bacteria that cause infection. Long-term use of antibiotics in small doses may be useful to achieve this goal.
• Cystine stones. Cystine stones can be difficult to treat. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to alkalinize the urine or to bind the cystine in the urine in addition to recommending an extremely high urine output.