Would kidney stones form in your body if you don’t drink enough water?

Written by on August 24, 2021

By Funmilola Afolabi

Claim: A Facebook post claimed that kidney stones are formed when one does not drink an adequate amount of water.

Verdict: Though not drinking enough water can lead to kidney stones, it is not absolute as there are other factors such as diet, bowel conditions, obesity, medications, and family history/genetics which can lead to the formation of kidney stones.

Full Text

Over the years, questions on how much water one should drink a day have been in public discussions.

A recent example is a screenshot of a Facebook post by Nurse Abigail Esang with a claim that kidney stones form when one does not drink adequate amount of water.

The image was tagged, “This is what forms in your kidney when you don’t drink adequate amount of water. It’s called kidney stone. It’s formed as a result of salt on other minerals clogging together. It forms stones in the kidney. Drink enough water, water does not have over dose. Love you all. Share to spread awareness.”

Screenshot of the Facebook post

This researcher also found out that the message was copied from a post by Nairaland Forum which has garnered over 56,500 views since it was posted in 2018.

Screenshot of the post

Water and Kidney stones

Before now, water has been said to be good for the body , this is just as some note that it is important to drink plenty of fluids, especially when the temperature is hot outside.

According to studies water keeps every system in the body functioning appropriately through aiding digestion, preventing constipation,  carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells among others. It also gives the body enough fluids to carry out necessary tasks required by proper hydration.

Experts also note that the daily four to six cups of water rule is for healthy people and it is possible for some to take in too much water if they have certain health conditions, such as kidney, liver or heart problems and thyroid diseases or if one is taking medications that retain water in the body such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Kidney Stones

Akidney stone is a hard object that is made from chemicals in the urine. Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. The crystals attract other elements and form together into a solid that gets even larger unless it is passed out of the body with the urine.

The stone forming chemicals are calciumoxalateuratecystinexanthine and phosphate.

After it is formed, the stone may stay in the kidney or trail down the urinary tract into the ureter. But stones that do not move may cause a back-up of urine in the kidney, ureter, the bladder or the urethra and this is what causes the pain.

Photo Credit: Harvard Medical College

What causes kidney stones

According to the Urology Care Foundation, a major risk of kidney stone is constant low urine volume. Low urine may come from dehydration- which is loss of body fluids, from hard exercise, working or living in a hot place, or not drinking enough fluids. Concentrated urine means there is less fluid to keep salts dissolved. Increasing fluid intake will dilute the salts in the urine and by doing this, one can reduce the risk of stones forming.

Other factors that can lead to kidney stones include: diet, bowel conditions, obesity, medical conditions such as (abnormal growth of the parathyroid glands) or distal renal tubular acidosis , medication and family history/genetics among others.

This is also corroborated by the Harvard Medical College, where it states that a risk factor for all stones regardless of type is dehydration. Anyone who is prone to kidney stones should pay attention to good hydration, adding that a randomized trial has shown that drinking 2 liters of fluid a day reduces the likelihood of stone recurrence by about half. The American Urological Association guideline for medical management of kidney stones also recommends that patients who form kidney stones should aim to drink more than 2.5 liters of fluids per day.

For the studies, it is concluded that all kidney stone sufferers should remember the phrase, “Dilution is the solution to the Pollution.” Good hydration is a safe and useful therapy for all stone formers.

A Consultant Nephrologist with the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital (UNIMEDTH), Dr Akinwunmi Akinbodewa, said although not drinking enough water does lead to the formation of kidney stones, it is not, however, an absolute factor as kidney stone is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

“Yes it is true that not drinking enough water can lead to kidney stones, but it is not absolute, we have other factors like genetic and environmental ones. Genetic in the sense that some people are stone formers, they form stones in their body like in the pancreas, bladder, kidney etc. and so they tend to form stones. It is hereditary, so even if they drink enough water or do not drink enough water,  they would still form kidney stones,” he said.

“And for the environmental factor, such could arise from one’s diet as there are different types of the kidney stones – acid or alkaline. So, if someone is having too much acid in the system it will result in acidic stones. Take for instance, eating certain chemicals that will form acid like preservatives, one is likely to develop acidic stones. And if you are consuming alkaline, say like vegetables, what you find is that you have alkaline types of stones.” he added.

Dr Akinbodewa noted that kidney infections too could lead to the formation of kidney stones and as such the formation of kidney stones is not only limited to one not drinking enough water but is hinged on many other factors.

Conclusion

Although not drinking enough water can lead to kidney stones, it is not absolute as there are other factors such as diet, bowel conditions, obesity, medications and family history/genetics which can lead to the formation of kidney stones.


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