While diet cannot cure kidney stones, drinking plenty of water helps kidney stones pass through the urinary tract. Steps to prevent the formation of stones include drinking a lot of water, eating calcium-rich foods, reducing salt intake, eating less animal protein and reducing intake of oxalate-rich foods, such as spinach, sweet potatoes, tea, nuts and chocolate, advises Mayo Clinic. Diets low in calcium sometimes increase kidney stones but patients should avoid calcium from supplements, which may contribute to stone formation.
Medications can also help prevent the formation of certain types of stones in people at risk. These include a thiazide diuretic or phosphate preparation to prevent calcium stones, allopurinol and an agent to alkalinize urine in those with uric acid stones, long-term antibiotics to prevent struvite stones, and medication to reduce cystine in the urine for those with cystine stones, according to Mayo Clinic.
Most small stones do not require invasive treatment and ultimately pass on their own. For large stones or those causing problems for the patient, extensive treatment is often necessary, states Mayo Clinic. Procedures can include breaking up the stones with sound waves in a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy; surgical removal of the stone through a small incision in the back; removal through the urethra with special tools, using a lighted tube and camera for guidance; or surgery to remove growths from the parathyroid gland, in cases where the gland produces too much hormone and leads to calcium stones.