Kidney stones that is. I’ve had them since I was in my 20’s. A handful in my left kidney, another handful in my right kidney. My 1st stone was relatively small and on the verge of passing. My urologist told me to go ahead with my plans of running the Long Beach Marathon as it would most likely pass during the throws of it. So it did…
Unfortunately, my lifelong tendency to over exercise, under hydrate and devour copious amounts of chocolate has made me a kidney stone making machine. (Heredity probably has a role in it too.) Over the years, I have passed many on my own and have also had 2 lithotripsies, a procedure that uses shock waves to break up stones. After the procedure, the tiny pieces of stone depart your body relatively peacefully as you urinate. Lithotripsies only have a 50% success rate so that’s discouraging.
Unless I am severely dehydrated (not drinking enough on a 50+ mile bike ride), the stones don’t act up too much. In fact. I have gone years without an “attack”. Sometimes, I go so long between attacks, I almost forgot that I have stones. After a 6 mile run, I had severe pain in my left flank (kidney area). My running buddy suggested it was gas pain and that I do some downward dogs to help “release it”. I did indulge in the dogs, but it provided no relief. My butt still up in the air, I started laughing when I realized it’s the #%@#$@% stones again.
The more I train, the more prone I am to dehydration. Recently, my urologist discovered a 7+mm stone in my left side that was in a precarious position. This means if the stone traveled there is a high probability that it would block my ureter and require emergency surgery. So this week, I chose what I thought was the lessor of evils. My urologist inserted a small scope into my bladder and ureter so he could find the stone and remove it (ureteroscopy) and blast the other stones directly with a helium laser device. This method is more reliable than shock wave lithotripsy (SWL).
Post -op, I have had more pain than I’ve had with any of the kidney stones themselves. And I haven’t been able to exercise for 5 days. (I know, rest does a body good.)
And to think it’s really all my own fault and all to my own detriment.
Research has shown that even slight dehydration can diminish energy levels. When you’re thirsty, most likely you are already slightly dehydrated.
Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve collected from various sources including SELF magazine to help myself and others with similar hydration challenges.
- Add flavor to your pitcher or water bottle (I squeeze lime in mine as the citric acid helps prevent / protect against the formation of stones.) They say starting your day with a glass of lemon or lime water, warm or cold is great healthy habit to cultivate. I’m working on it and use a manual juicer for limes and lemons:
Or you can get a flavor infuser water bottle. Use fresh fruit (grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, lemon, lime), veggie slices (cucumber, ginger, celery), and herbs (basil, mint, lavender). Lime or lemon water also helps prevent stones. This infuser on Amazon looks good as it 32 ounces, has the time tracker and comes with a recipe book. $16.95
2. Use a straw, it helps more water go down faster than just sipping. (I do.)
3. Take water with you everywhere as your constant companion (on your commute, on a road trip, and keep it at your desk @work).
4. Drink a glass after every bathroom break. (Just another way to to remember and make it a healthy habit / routine.)
5. Drink a glass of water before every meal. Extra bonus, it will curb your appetite and help you eat less. Good strategy for holiday parties too.
6. If you drink sugary drinks / juices dilute them with water and lots of ice. (Better yet, replace them with sparkling water or infused water.)
7. Choose sparkling water over soda pop. (I already do – there are some great flavors out there – grapefruit and tangerine are my favs.)
You can pick this and other flavors up on Amazon and have it delivered. Sometimes you can find deals at your local grocery stores too.
8. Get a filter for your kitchen sink . (I have the Pur – functional & aesthetic.)
9. Use a water pitcher with a filter and gauge your progress. Plenty to choose from doesn’t matter which one, just use it.
10. Chase each alcohol beverage you drink with a glass of water. (Helps prevent hangovers too.)
11. Eat fruits and veggies with high water content such as cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, and grapefruit.
So how much water is the right amount? They used to say 64 ounces (8 X 8 ounce glasses). Now they say half your body weight in ounces. It makes sense that a 6 foot man would have different requirement than a 5 foot woman.And it makes sense that your baseline needs would increase as your exercise intensity does. There are many benefits to reap with proper hydration including clearer skin, more energy, weight loss etc. And for me, hopefully no more %^%&# kidney stones.
Try these tips and tricks and see what works best for you. What hydration tips do you haveup your sleeves?