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Home arrow Health arrow Mental Health arrow Can Stress Cause Kidney Stones? 3 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make

Can Stress Cause Kidney Stones? 3 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 10, 2023
6 min read 1196 Views 0 Comments
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When you are unable to manage stress, it puts your body in a negative state. Stress can impact your health by increasing the risk of kidney stones and other urinary tract issues. This article explains the relationship between kidney stones and stress.

can stress cause kidney stones

Anyone who has had a kidney stone knows that it is one of the most painful sensations you can experience. 

Kidney stones are when a mineral accumulation builds up inside your kidneys. They can form due to several reasons, like dehydration, poor diet, and weight gain. 

However, chronic stress is one of the most common factors that make kidney stones form, but not many people talk about the relationship between these two. 

If you are unable to manage stress, it can lead to chronic complications like high blood pressure, which affects the kidneys and puts you at risk for kidney stones. 

In this article, our experts discuss the relationship between stress and kidney stones and share 3 lifestyle tips for kidney stone prevention.

Can Stress Cause Kidney Stones?

Yes, stress can cause kidney stones. Kidneys are at greater risk when there is a change in blood circulation or other conditions. After all, they are the ones in charge of filtering blood.

When there is poor stress management, there is an increase in a hormone called cortisol. This hormone can increase blood sugar levels, affect hunger hormones and the immune response system, and produce high blood pressure. 

High blood pressure can increase the risk of kidney damage, which can lead to forming kidney stones. Research shows that people with kidney stones had had a stressful event or experienced chronic stress months or even years before the condition developed.

Another study also evaluated the relationship between stress and kidney stone formation. In this study, they found that people with calcium oxalate stones were more likely to have another episode if they had high-stress levels.  

Can stress cause kidney pain?

Currently, no research links kidney pain to stress. However, as mentioned before, poor stress management can negatively affect the body, such as low energy levels, bad mood, changes in appetite, and muscle pain. So, there might be a relationship between kidney pain and stress. 

If you are experiencing kidney pain, consult with your doctor to determine the cause of the problem. You might have kidney stones or uric acid stones without knowing it, or another condition that needs to be checked. 

Can Stress Cause Protein in Urine?

Stress is one of the many factors that can cause the protein to be released through your urinary tract. Other factors that can cause protein in urine are chronic dehydration, pregnancy, strenuous exercise, and bad lifestyle choices. 

Normally, you shouldn’t have protein in your urine or be at low levels. More protein in your urine means that there is something wrong with your kidneys. If you don’t find the root cause, it might put you at risk of developing severe kidney conditions. 

How Does Stress Affect the Urinary System?

When you are unable to manage stress, kidney stones are not the only side effect you might experience. There are also other effects on the urinary system. 

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are another common side effect of stress. When there is an increase in stress, it can lead to a poor immune system. If your immune system is not working properly, it puts you at risk of foreign invaders affecting the body. 

It can also increase your cravings, leading to poor lifestyle choices like a higher sugar intake, which increases the risk of UTIs

There is a reason why you have the sudden urge to go to the bathroom whenever you are stressed. Research shows a relationship between stress or anxiety and bladder incontinence. 

Finally, stress can also affect the urinary system by increasing the risk of interstitial cystitis flares. This is a condition that can cause bladder pressure, discomfort, and in some cases, pelvic pain. 

How to Avoid Kidney Issues From Stress

Now that you know how stress might influence kidney stones, let’s talk about those lifestyle changes you can make to prevent them from happening. After all, no one wants these painful stones to occur. 

#1 Make changes in your diet

Several types of kidney stones can form. The two most common types are calcium oxalate and uric acid stones. Other types, like struvite, calcium, and cystine stones, are not as common. 

For more detailed nutritional advice, it is important to analyze what type of stones are forming. If you are unable to have the stone analysis, you can still follow these general recommendations to prevent kidney stones. 

  • Limit oxalate consumption. Foods high in oxalates, like chocolate, leafy greens, tea, nuts, beets, wheat bran, and rhubarb, should be avoided. 
  • Get enough calcium. A good calcium intake can reduce the risk of kidney stones. Make sure you reach the recommended intake of 1,000 to 1,200mg of calcium daily. You can include dairy products or take a calcium supplement. 
  • Reduce salt consumption. A high sodium intake can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Don’t exceed the limit of 2,300mg of sodium per day. Avoid consuming high-salt foods like canned foods or highly processed foods. 
  • Avoid vitamin C supplements. It seems that consuming high levels of vitamin C (>1,000mg per day) can increase the risk of oxalate levels in the body, which increases the risk of stone formation. 

Overall, you should follow a natural and balanced diet. Include fruits and vegetables in your diet to get enough nutrients, lean protein to support your muscle mass, and healthy fats to help reduce inflammation in the body. 

#2 Drink lots of water

Dehydration plays a crucial role in stone formation, so make sure you drink plenty of water. How do you know how much water you need? You can divide your body weight in half to get the necessary ounces. 

However, be careful about which liquids you add. As mentioned before, tea, for example, is off-limits since it can produce more stones. Sugary drinks, such as Coke, can increase the risk of UTIs, kidney stones, and weight gain. 

#3 Focus on yourself

Finally, as we saw throughout the article, there is a link between stress and kidney stones. While I would love to eliminate stress, sometimes it is a necessary bodily response. 

For that reason, the best advice for you is to learn stress management techniques

You can try different stress relief techniques like yoga, aroma therapy, color therapy, journalling, waking, or yoga. Some apps can help you manage stress and decrease the risk of kidney stones. 


Can stress cause high creatinine levels?

Yes, it seems that high-stress levels can affect your creatinine levels. Make sure to consult your doctor if you have high creatinine levels, as it can lead to kidney damage.

Can stress cause kidney failure?

Yes, stress can increase the chance of kidney failure. Too much stress can lead to high blood pressure, which can cause significant damage to the kidneys. However, remember that stress is not the only factor for kidney failure. High sugar levels, poor hydration, and bad nutrition can also play a role in kidney failure.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Kidney stones is not a fun condition to have. Some say it might be as painful as childbirth. Stress is one of the many factors that can affect kidney stone formation.

Other factors, like dehydration, poor dietary choices, obesity, family history, and the consumption of some supplements (like vitamin C), can all play a role in the formation of kidney stones.

Therefore, a healthy diet may also help prevent stones from forming, and drinking water is essential to prevent kidney stones.

Reaching your water intake might be complicated. Here are several ways to boost your water intake and help you reach your goal:

  1. Set the alarm to remind you to drink water every hour or so.
  2. Place a water bottle next to your house keys. This way, whenever you go out, you remember to take the bottle with you.
  3. Add some sliced fruit or lemon. Some people don’t like drinking plain water, so adding flavor can make it easier to swallow.
  4. Set smaller goals. Instead of focusing on drinking two bottles of water per day, divide them throughout the day. For example, I will drink half a bottle from when I get up until 10 AM.


So, can kidney stones be a product of stress?

Yes, stress can lead to kidney stones, but it is not the only factor that affects their formation. 

When you cannot manage your stress, it can increase blood pressure, leading to kidney damage. This, combined with poor hydration and eating habits, can lead to kidney stones. Stress can also cause shingles, hemorrhoids, vertigo, and other unpleasant side effects.

To prevent them from happening, make sure you are taking care of your mental health. Trying stress relief techniques like meditation, yoga, or journaling (with the help of mental health apps) can all positively affect your stress.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 10, 2023
6 min read 1196 Views 0 Comments

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