flushing out a 4.5mm kidney stone?
November 11, 2008 6:10 AM   Subscribe

4.5mm kidney stone - what can I do between now and the urologist's visit in two days to get rid of it?

I've read that most 4mm and smaller stones pass on their own. Mine's 4.5mm. I want to get this little mineral bugger out of my system if possible.

What can I do on my own to maximize the chances of passing this stone?

I was diagnosed on Friday following moderate flank pain and abdominal discomfort starting last Monday. CT scan confirms stone diagnosis, and I'm seeing a urologist on Wednesday.

More info: white male, moderately active, middle age. CT scan shows 4.5 mm stone in kidney. This is my first stone. Took 100% RDA in calcium supplements (calc. carbonate) for the past year. Also a moderate cola drinker (24 oz / day) and black tea drinker (1 - 2 cups / day). I don't drink coffee or alcohol, and I don't smoke.

I was much more active a year ago. I was bike commuting daily. Given the calcium supplements and the reduction in exercise, which I've read leads to bone loss and subsequent increased levels of calcium, my educated guess is that this is a calcium-based kidney stone.

In the past week, I've stopped drinking cola, cut back on tea, and stopped taking calcium. I've also begun drinking at least 3 liters of water a day.

I'd like to do the maximum to pass or reduce this stone before the urologist visit. Beyone the diet changes above and the increase in water, what can I do?

I know that you are not my urologist. I'm just looking for suggestions that go beyond the advice in all the 'so you've got a kidney stone' pages.

Should I be more physically active? How far can I take this (i.e. jogging, jumping jacks)? And if this is a calcium-based stone, what can I injest to encourage it to break up or slim down?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used to have kidney stones and the only solution that I recall was drinking tons of water and gatorade.
posted by k8t at 6:16 AM on November 11, 2008

This is SO not medical advice, but if you're trying to increase the frequency of your urination, jump back on the caffeine. (Tea, preferably.) There are apparently also diuretic teas that can help with naturally breaking up a stone?
posted by greenland at 6:35 AM on November 11, 2008

My girlfriend has recurrent kidney stones and says:

"Exercise, taking frequent walks can help pass them. Drink lots of water (3 litres is enough). You could also try adding something citrus (eg OJ) to the water buts it's not likely to do much in two days ."
posted by tallus at 6:50 AM on November 11, 2008

Each time my husband is diagnosed with stones, he is told to drink a lot of water, no caffeine, and very little carbonation. His last was 4.5 mm, as well, the biggest one yet (of 5 or 6) and he was in immense pain, so I hope that you pass that thing quickly and with as little pain as possible.
posted by alpha_betty at 7:26 AM on November 11, 2008

The above advice about increasing your fluid intake makes sense to me (insert standard disclaimer: IANAD). Also, I don't know if they told you this at the place where you were diagnosed... if you do pass the stone before your doctor appointment, you want to keep it and give it to the doctor to be analyzed. At least, that's what the ER doctor told me when I went in for my (hopefully only) kidney stone. Good luck!
posted by Nolechick11 at 7:44 AM on November 11, 2008

The odds of passing a stone depends not only on the size of the stone, but also the location of the stone.
posted by gramcracker at 8:06 AM on November 11, 2008

I had a pair of stones a couple years ago, both small; 1mm and 2mm. The 2mm one was in a place where they could perform lithotripsy, and that seemed to work. But according to a sonogram, I still had (and still have) the other stone. As far as I know, it hasn't passed. But I have been drinking a LOT of water, with lemon juice, which I hear helps.

One thing to avoid if you are prone to stones, as per advice from my father's doctor, is grapefruit juice.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:22 AM on November 11, 2008

I've been through this twice... My take on it is that there is probably very little you can do (although I also received the advice to drink a lot of water) to encourage the stone to pass.

Some not asked for advice..

yes, save the stone if it passes... this involves peeing through a small mesh strainer... not always practical when you're on a date, or dining out... so don't sweat this, if you catch it, you catch it...

If the pain starts for real (you'll know it when it happens), I found that 800 mg motrin was the most useful.... worked better than the narcotic pain killer they also gave me... My advice is to get the medication in advance... you will NOT want to wait around to see the dr. and go to the pharmacy...
posted by HuronBob at 8:52 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Water water water, with occasional juice. Get peeing about every half hour or so.

If it's in the ureteral tube (the bit that connects the kidney to the bladder) staying in motion (walking) really helps. I don't know if it makes it pass faster, but it reduces the pain.

But you may not be able to pass it depending on where it is.

I'd avoid stuff with caffeine or alcohol. Tea and beer will get you peeing more often in the short term, but it will dry you out, which is not what you want and can make passing the stone harder. And they have other side effects that don't go well with kidney pain.

Personally I'd stay away from "remedy drinks". It's all pretty much urine by the time it hits your kidneys no matter what you drink. (Asparagus excepted.)
posted by Ookseer at 11:14 AM on November 11, 2008

Cut out the tea ENTIRELY. No tea. Uh uh. No way.

I have bladder problems and I thought that tea was at least *better* than soda. No dice. There's something in black tea (tannins?) that is a SERIOUS IRRITANT to the urinary system. Get rid of it.

Beyond that, water. Lots of it. Cranberry is always helpful for general urinary health. I recommend cranberry pills, as opposed to juice which tends to have added sugar.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:10 PM on November 11, 2008

Others in the thread are recommending to keep the tea: I can't stress enough that black tea is going to make things WORSE, not better.

Anecdotal evidence: I had a flare up of a minor bladder infection that left me peeing every minutes - or at least, really NEEDING to pee, but not really producing much of anything. This was in the summer, and I had switched from drinking soda to drinking iced tea after ending up in the ER with searing pain from my last bladder infection. My mother, who is a nurse, commented that the tea probably wasn't helping anything and that she's exhibited the same symptoms from black tea - and mentioned that the tea ITSELF (and not just the caffeine) is an irritant to the urinary system.

I cut out the tea and switched to water and I was FINE in two days.

DON'T DRINK TEA! JUST SAY NO TO TEA! At least black tea. Green tea seems to be fine with my delicate system and I have no recent experience with herbal teas.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:16 PM on November 11, 2008

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