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Kidney Stones: Frequently Asked Questions

The kidney stone specialists at the UCI Health Center for Urological Care are experts in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of kidney stones.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about kidney stones.

What causes kidney stones to form?

A change in the normal balance of salts, minerals and other components in urine can lead to urolithiasis, a process that causes these particles cluster within the kidneys.

There are different types of kidney stones, including calcium oxalate, uric acid, ammonic magnesium and cystine.

Learn more about the causes of kidney stones ›

Are kidney stones inherited?

The tendency to develop kidney stones may be inherited.

If others in your family have had them, you may be more prone to having them, too.

How can I avoid developing kidney stones?

Drink lots of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Lemon juice contains citric acid, which not only inhibits stone formation but also breaks up small stones as they begin to form. Generally, the more citric acid in your urine, the more protected you are against forming new kidney stones.

The most common cause of stones is insufficient daily water intake. You should drink enough water to keep your urine clear—about eight to 10 glasses a day.

Studies suggest that staying physically fit and keeping a healthy weight can help, too.

Learn more about preventing kidney stones ›

Is diet a factor in the formation of kidney stones?

Yes. High levels of sodium, calcium, protein, vitamins C and D, and oxalate-rich foods (dark vegetables, chocolate, nuts, cranberries and coffee and tea, for example) can increase your chances of developing stones.

In general, it's a good idea to eat less salt and to consult a doctor or dietitian about how much calcium you need daily.

If you have had an oxalate kidney stone, consider limiting oxalate-rich foods. In addition to the ones above, others include spinach, colas, peanuts, beets, rhubarb, berries, beans, tofu, oranges, sweet potatoes and draft beer.

What other factors can cause kidney stones?

Certain groups of people are more prone to kidney stones than others. Some medical conditions also can contribute.

Men in their 30s, 40s and 50s are most likely to get stones. Postmenopausal women and women who have had their ovaries removed also are at elevated risk.

Other contributors include frequent urinary tract infections (UTI), insulin resistance, cystic fibrosis, gout, inflammatory bowel disease, gastric bypass surgery, hyperparathyroidism, high blood pressure and bladder problems resulting from spinal injuries.

For more information or to make an appointment with one of our kidney stone specialists, please call 714-456-7005.

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