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, 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.


Natural Ways to Treat Depression and Anxiety

boy-1758232_1280Burnaby physician Dr. Ali Ghahary works with many patients suffering from depression and anxiety, conditions that often co-exist together. As many as 4.5 million Canadians aged 18 or older, as well as some younger children, are diagnosed with a mental disorder at least once in their lives, which can have a significant impact on their ability to lead normal and healthy lifestyles – including underperformances at work and school, as well as a steady decline in social interactions.

Some of the common symptoms of depression and anxiety include panic attacks, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, loss of interest in once enjoyable activities, disturbances in sleep, changes in appetite and weight loss/gain.

At Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia, Dr. Ghahary works in combination with clinical psychologists and psychiatrists in helping patients come up with appropriate treatment plans specifically designed for them, usually consisting of medications in conjecture with behavioural therapy as well as lifestyle and habit changes. While medication is often successful as a standalone treatment, making some natural changes to one’s daily life is also recommended when dealing with mental health.

First and foremost, setting goals, i.e. ‘What do I want to accomplish with my treatment?’ As depression can often interrupt the structure that you were once used to, discussing any goals you have with your physician, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist will help pave the path to a successful outcome and help you with your future plans. In addition, goals can also be something small, such as doing the dishes every day or setting your alarm to wake up at a specific time every morning – which is also another key factor when dealing with depression and anxiety, as it can disrupt sleeping patterns. Trying not to take naps and ensuring you don’t surround yourself with any distractions (computers, television) will also help your sleep improve over time.

sports-1050966_1280To boost the brain’s feel-good chemicals known as endorphins, regular exercise is also helpful. Going for 20 to 30 minute walks a few times a week is a great way to alleviate symptoms associated to depression and anxiety. If outdoor activities aren’t your thing, joining a community centre with exercise equipment is another option. If you are one who has difficulty sleeping as mentioned above, there are also several 24-hour gyms in Canada that you may benefit from joining. As long as you are keeping fit somehow.

You may also want to try taking on new responsibilities. Those suffering from depression tend to avoid taking on too much at once, and it often get in the way of school or work, but it is important to remain involved. If you previously worked full-time, think of re-entering the workforce by taking on a part-time job. You could also consider volunteering; helping others will make you feel good about yourself.

question-1301144_1920When struggling with depression and anxiety, it is also important to avoid thinking negative thoughts. Naturally, we often jump to the worst possible conclusions, but that is especially so in individuals who are depressed. If you constantly tell yourself that you don’t feel good enough, try to change your thinking by listing all of the reasons why you are good enough, and remind yourself of all the things you have accomplished in the past and hope to accomplish in the future.

By making these lifestyle changes and implementing new things, you are altering the dopamine levels in your brain, and in time you will find that you not only feel more energized and focused, but have more pleasure and enjoyment out of life.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) vs. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

stomach-1051854_960_720Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are two common disorders of the digestive system. These disorders affect as many as 5 million Canadians, with approximately 120,000 individuals in Canada being diagnosed with IBS every year. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS diagnoses in the world today. While the symptoms of IBS and IBD are very similar, it is important to understand that the two are not the same condition and they have contrasting treatment regimens.

Unlike IBD, IBS is considered to be the lesser evil of the two. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is the fact that while IBD is an indicator for other gastro-related illnesses and causes the intestines to become inflamed, IBS does not. IBS can, however, cause profuse discomfort and anguish, with symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation – oftentimes alternating. These symptoms can range from being mild to severe, and they can disturb one’s self-image, ability to work, and overall quality of life. Individuals with IBS generally do not show any signs of any severe disease when examined, so a diagnosis is almost always dependent on the symptoms presented by the patient to their physician. Common complaints and symptoms of IBS that Dr. Ali Ghahary sees in patients include bloating, gassiness, nausea, and the inability to move the bowels despite urgency. IBS can be caused by certain medications, dietary changes, hormonal changes and stress. Treatment includes antidiarrheal medications, fiber supplements, and stress relief.

IBD, on the other hand, affects 1 in every 150 Canadians, and can be a direct cause of severe gastrointestinal diseases known as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease – both of which are accompanied by inflammation of the bowel. Symptoms of IBD include weight loss, chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating. In severe cases, low-grade fevers and bloody stools may also be present. These are red flags that should not be ignored. IBD is diagnosed with blood tests, stool tests, CT scans or endoscopes, and is commonly treated with several types of medications: Aminosalicylates (to help control inflammation), Antibiotics (to help those who may develop an infection known as C. Difficile), Corticosteroids (to treat sudden onset of IBD-related flare-ups), Immunomodulators (to quiet the immune system and reduce inflammation), and biologic therapies (to block proteins that may produce inflammation.)