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Prevention of Kidney Stones

Prevent Kidney Stones

15 Weird Risk Factors For Kidney Stones, featuring UC San Diego Health

No one wants to experience kidney stone pain or surgery twice. We aim not only to treat kidney stones but also prevent them.

Once you've had a kidney stone, you face recurrence rates of 50 percent over five years. Prevention methods can be an important tool in stone disease management. For this reason, UC San Diego Health's Comprehensive Kidney Stone Center focuses not only on surgical and nonsurgical treatment, but also on the aggressive and efficient prevention of initial and recurring stones.

How Prevention Plans Work

Under the direction of Roger Sur, MD, a leader in the field of innovative kidney stone evaluation and prevention, we can create a successful prevention plan in almost 90 percent of our patients. Our program is able to detect an impressive 97 percent of underlying medical abnormalities in stone-forming patients.

Using this information, we can provide general recommendations as well as effective, highly individualized therapies to prevent or reduce the rate of stone recurrence. Our aim is to help you avoid future discomfort or surgery.

General Prevention

Most kidney stones are diet-related. General conservative recommendations for kidney stone prevention include lifestyle changes. Here are some tips:

  • Drink at least 2 quarts of water per day
  • Eat less protein, particularly animal protein
  • Consider losing weight if you're overweight

In addition, our dietitians can work with you to develop dietary changes and tailor meal plans to help you reduce stone recurrence. We can work with any dietary constraints or concerns as we develop a plan.

Specialized Prevention

We address individual conditions and risk factors, which include:


In this condition, excess reabsorption of calcium through the bowels will lead to excess calcium in the body. This excess calcium spills over into the kidneys, which excretes this calcium into the urine, and calcium stones subsequently form.

  • Type I Hypercalciuria is not affected by how much calcium a person consumes in the diet. The excess reabsorption is independent of dietary calcium. Restricting dietary calcium will not decrease the risk of stone formation in this particular condition.
  • Type II Hypercalciuria is affected by calcium consumption in the diet. Therefore, calcium restriction leads to decreased risk of stone formation. Common sources of calcium include dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese and orange juice (which is often supplemented by calcium). Moderate restriction in diary products is recommended for this condition.

Gouty Diathesis

This is a condition of overly acidic urine in which the urinary pH is lower than usual. Our specialists can use conservative methods and medications to normalize this abnormality.


Urinary citrate is a natural inhibitor of kidney stone formation. Some people have lower than usual urinary citrate levels, and thus have higher risk of stone formation. We use medications and dietary methods to alter this abnormality and decrease risk of kidney stone formation.


This genetic condition involves abnormal transport of amino acids and subsequent excess secretion of cystine into the urine. Patients with this condition often develop cystine kidney stones at a young age and have an extremely high rate of recurrent kidney stones throughout there lifetime. Medical therapy and dietary modifications can decrease the risk of recurrent kidney stones in these patients.

Struvite or Infection Stones

In this condition, specific types of bacteria produce an enzyme that leads to excess production of urea metabolites (ammonium). Magnesium ammonium phosphate stones, also known as struvite or "staghorn" kidney stones, subsequently form.


Primary hyperoxaluria is a rare congenital defect that leads to profoundly elevated levels of oxalate. Dietary oxaluria is a more common form of hyperoxaluria and is associated with excess dietary oxalate. Foods abundant in oxalate include chocolate, nuts, dark leafy green vegetables, coffee, tea and vitamin C. In the latter case, a restricted diet can help in preventing stone formation.


In this condition, excess uric acid levels can lead to stone formation. Treatment involves medications such as Allopurinol.

​Appointments & Referrals


Kidney Stone Specialists