How to Prevent Kidney Stones

In yesterday’s articles we discussed how the kidneys function. Today, we are going to continue that conversation by discussing kidney stones, how they occur, the symptoms associated to them, and how they can be treated.

Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form as a result of your urine containing (and being unable to dilute) crystal-forming substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid. In addition, your urine may also lack the substances that prevent these crystals from forming, which then creates an ideal environment for kidney stones to develop. While kidney stones do not have one definitive cause, there are several factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney stones. These risk factors include having a family history of kidney stones, dehydration, having an unhealthy diet, obesity, digestive disorders and other medical conditions such as metabolic disorders, which can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate found in urine.

An individual suffering from kidney stones usually presents with severe pain in the back that can spread to the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, painful urination, and urine that is cloudy and/or has a foul odor. It is also not unusual for pain to fluctuate in intensity.

There are three different types of kidney stones:

1. Calcium Stones
Calcium oxalate is a naturally occurring substance that is found in certain foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and chocolate. Your liver also produces oxalate.

2. Struvite Stones
These kinds of kidney stones are formed as a result of an infection, such as a UTI (urinary tract infection). Struvite stones can grow rapidly and become large. These stones sometimes come on with little warning and have very few symptoms.

3. Uric Acid Stones
Uric acid stones can form in individuals who are not drinking enough fluids or are losing too much fluid, in individuals who have diets that are high in protein, as well as individuals diagnosed with gout. There are also generic factors that may increase the risk of uric acid stones.

Ali Ghahary
Dr. Ali Ghahary practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, BC. Click here for clinic directions and contact information.

For individuals prone to developing kidney stones, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests controlling the intake of foods that are high in calcium and oxalate such as beets, chocolate, tea, coffee, cola, nuts, strawberries, and spinach.

For prevention of kidney stones, HealthLink BC also recommends drinking 10 to 12 cups of water per day and eating foods that come from plant-based protein sources such as dried lentils, peas, beans and tofu. You should also limit packaged foods and replace salt with things like herbs, lemon or lime zest/juice, garlic and ginger – and absolutely avoid alcohol! You should also use caution when taking calcium supplements as they can also lead to an increased risk of kidney stones.

While kidney stones are usually passed through urination (something that can cause severe discomfort), depending on the size and location of the stones you may require a procedure known as ESWL (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy). This procedure uses sound wave vibrations to break the stones into tiny fragments, making them easier to pass in your urine. If this is unsuccessful, surgery may then be required.

If you would like more information on kidney stones, you can connect with Dr. Ali Ghahary on social media platforms such as Twitter  at http://twitter.com/dralighahary, and Linkedin.

For any questions you have about kidney stones, or if you suspect you may have kidney stones, Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to see walk-in patients every Monday and Wednesday from 2 PM to 8 PM, Fridays from 12 PM to 4 PM, and Sundays from 1 PM to 6 PM. Hours are dependent on patient volume, so make sure you take a look at the clinic’s walk-in schedule and contact them to ensure they are still accepting patients on the day you choose to attend.

Health Benefits of Drinking Water

While not everyone considers water to be an important factor in his or her everyday health, it is actually a key component to staying healthy and is fundamental in keeping nutrients circulating properly in your body. The human body is composed of at least 60% of water and plays an integral role in many different bodily functions including digestion, absorption, and maintenance and regulation of body temperature. Drinking water is also a great way to quench your thirst without having to worry about calories that are found in soda and other sugary beverages, which can be low in nutrients and not provide any benefit whatsoever in terms of your health.

If you do not drink enough water each day, you may wind up suffering from dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, dry eyes, urine that is dark in colour, fatigue or dizziness, and nausea that worsens after exercise. When the body is dehydrated, your brain will trigger its thirst mechanism, which is not something you should ignore.

For individuals looking to lose weight, substituting water for beverages that are high in calories can help. It’s also imperative to include foods that are water-rich in your diet, as these are more filling and can also help to decrease your calorie intake. Water-rich foods include fruits and vegetables, beans, oatmeal and broth-based soups. The body absorbs these foods slower, making you feel full.

Staying hydrated also helps with muscle performance and keeps them feeling energized. If you are not getting enough water, muscles will not work as well. It is recommended that you drink at least 17 ounces (a little over 2 cups) of water prior to exercising, and you should also drink water at regular intervals during physical activity to replace the fluids you lose from sweating.

Water also plays a significant role in kidney function. The kidneys are responsible for flushing out toxins. However, if you are not getting enough fluid intake then this becomes difficult for the body to do and you may be at an increased risk of developing kidney stones.

Not only does water help with various parts of your health, but the effects of drinking water can also be noticeable from the outside, too, and keeps the skin looking good. If you don’t drink enough water, your skin can appear dry and wrinkled.

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a physician in the Greater Vancouver area, recommends patients make water their go-to beverage of choice. The Canadian Food Guide also recommends that individuals drink water each day, limiting the intake of carbonated/soft drinks, energy and sports drinks, sweetened beverages and alcohol. These are extremely high in calories and low in nutrients. If you are turned off by water due to its lack of flavour, try adding things like orange wedges, lemon, lime, berries or mint. Other healthy options include 100% fruit juices and fortified soy beverages.

How the Kidneys Function

The kidneys – two fist-sized, bean-shaped organs that are located just below the ribcage – are responsible for removing any excess fluid or waste from the body, in addition to keeping electrolyte levels stable and creating hormones that make red blood cells, regulate blood pressure, and even help make your bones strong.

First, we’ll take a look at how the kidneys function…

Each kidney is made up of filtering units known as nephrons that filter small amounts of blood. The nephrons include their own filter known as the glomerulus which allows waste to pass through it, with the final product turning into urine. Urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes located on each side of the bladder known as ureters. The kidneys filter approximately 150 quarts of blood each day, producing 1 to 2 quarts of urine. When our kidneys don’t work properly, the production of urine can slow down and even stop completely, resulting in kidney failure and the need for kidney dialysis to help with the removal of leftover fluid from the body.

Kidney failure can occur from a number of acute or chronic situations. For example, if you have suffered direct damage to your kidneys, have been diagnosed with a condition that can significantly slow down blood flow to the kidneys, or blocked ureters where waste is unable to leave your body. Conditions that can slow blood flow and lead to kidney failure include blood loss, heart attack or heart disease, infections, liver failure and dehydration. Certain diseases, damage and other agents such as blood clots, lupus, and multiple myeloma can also lead to acute kidney failure, as well as toxins such as alcohol and drug use. You are at a greater risk of developing kidney failure if you are at an advanced age, have been diagnosed with heart failure, liver disease or peripheral artery disease. With acute kidney failure, the function of the kidneys is lost rapidly. However, for acute kidney failure to occur, both kidneys must be damaged. If only one kidney is damaged, it can be removed and you will still be able to have normal function with the remaining kidney. If both kidneys are damaged then a kidney transplant may be required.

It is important to note that acute kidney failure usually co-occurs with other medical conditions, both of which can rapidly worsen if not appropriately treated, hence why it is important to see your physician for annual checkups.

Dr. Ali Ghahary, who practices in the city of Vancouver, is available to see patients on a walk-in basis and is happy to answer any questions you may have about the kidneys and how they function. Dr. Ghahary currently practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia. For his complete schedule, visit the clinic website at http://brentwoodwalk-inclinic.com. Click here for directions to the clinic.

Understanding Inflammation

When Canadians think of inflammation, we often think of it as damage to the body that causes pain and swelling, and even infection. While this is true to a certain extent, inflammation is actually the body’s natural response to something it perceives to be harmful. So while infection is oftentimes easily associated with inflammation, inflammation does not necessarily mean an infection is present. Inflammation occurs by releasing chemicals from the white blood cells, which assists in protecting the body from and removing any damaged pathogens, cells or other irritants. A bacterium, fungus or virus causes infection, and inflammation is simply the body’s response to it. When inflammation is present, this means that the body is trying to heal itself. If inflammation did not occur, our bodies would never properly heal.

There are two types of inflammation that can occur. Acute and Chronic. Acute means the rapid onset of inflammation, which can become severe but has a short healing period. Acute inflammation can be the result of having a sore or scratch throat caused by the common cold or flu, bronchitis, skin wounds, dermatitis, appendicitis or sinusitis. Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is long-term and can last from months to years. Chronic inflammation can be caused by the failure to eliminate acute inflammation as well as other persisting irritants. It can result in several diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, hay fever, and even certain cancers. Chronic sinusitis, asthma, and digestive orders such as Crohn’s disease are also linked to chronic inflammation. Signs and symptoms of inflammation can include pain to the affected areas (especially upon touch), redness, swelling, and the feeling of warmth.

Autoimmune diseases can also result in inflammation. An autoimmune disease is when the body’s immune system issues a response to otherwise healthy tissues and mistakes them for pathogens or irritants that are harmful. Examples of autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, lupus, psoriasis, and fibromyalgia.

In certain cases, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, Canada, will prescribe medication to alleviate the symptoms associated with inflammation. These medications include anti-inflammatories known as NSAIDs – such as Aspirin or Ibuprofen, and are used to treat inflammation and pain. For more information on chronic pain management, visit alighahary.blogspot.ca. Corticosteroids such as Prednisone are also commonly used to treat inflammation. As these drugs can result in serious side effects and other health conditions, it is not recommended that they are taken long-term unless otherwise noted by your physician.