by Dr. Steven Garner, MD
Dear Dr. Garner,
Last week, I had the worst pain of my life.
While I am a man and have never been pregnant, the feeling I had is what I imagine my wife felt during the delivery of our daughter.
It turned out to be kidney stones.
Foremost on my mind, is whether I should expect a recurrence anytime soon.
Kidney stones and moans in Midwood
Dear Kidney Stones,
You have endured what is known to be the most painful affliction of humans aside from pregnancy.
The kidney stone is actually a small rock that forms in the kidney. It can either stay in the kidney or move further down a tube (ureter), which leads from the kidney to the bladder. This tube carries urine from the kidney to the bladder for excretion.
The problem arises, when a stone gets stuck somewhere in the tube causing severe pain, and blockage of the kidney.
While anyone can form a stone, some are more likely than others to develop it.
• Those overweight
• Those with kidney infections
•. Those who have family members with kidney stones
• Those who have had a kidney stone before
• Those who eat a lot of meat and eggs
• Those who do not drink enough liquid
The kidney stones occur most frequently in the spring. Some believe this be due to the fact that we become dehydrated, as we go outdoors for physical activity after the long winter. Getting enough fluid is an important part in prevention of stones.
The symptoms of a kidney stone include:
• Severe pain in the side and back below the ribs
• Pain that spreads to the belly
• Pain that comes in waves
• Pain on urination
• Cloudy or foul smelling urine
• Fever and chills
• Urge to urinate
What causes the kidney stone?
The stone forms from different crystals in the urine that can come together, usually when one is dehydrated or has a lot of crystals. There are many different types of stones, and the cause is better understood once the type of kidney stone is determined. For example, stones made of calcium may be caused by drinking too much milk, or dairy products, or from taking too many supplements.
What can you do when you have a stone?
• Drink water to try to flush the stone out (This may take two to three quarts a day).
• Pain relievers may help.
• Try to remain active.
There are certain medicines that can dissolve stones which may work.
Certain stones may be treated with ultrasound waves, known as lithotripsy in which the stone is blasted by sound waves into little pieces and then flows out in the urine.
Lifestyle changes may help. These include:
• Eating a diet low in salt and animal protein
• Limiting the use of calcium supplements
Some simple tips to reduce recurrence are:
• Drink plenty of water all day to flush the crystals out of the urine.
• Drink less beer – in addition to dehydrating you, it contains crystals which can form stones.
• Eat less meat – they are high in certain crystals which can form stones.
With the proper lifestyle change, you can definitely reduce your chance of developing another kidney stone.