With the number one cause of kidney stones being dehydration, summer in North Carolina is prime time for kidney stones.
“We see a consistent increase in the number of kidney stone cases here at WakeMed every summer, especially once people start spending more time in the heat and aren’t staying as hydrated as they need to,” explains urologist Matthew Lyons, MD.
This means anyone who works or spends a lot of time outside during summer is at greater risk for kidney stones. Other risk factors include those with a personal or family history of kidney stones, those who are obese or have diabetes, as well as those who have undergone a weight loss procedure such as gastric bypass surgery.
Kidney Stones – The Basics
“Kidney stones are basically a collection of different materials that ‘fall out’ of solutions as they head from your kidneys to your bladder. These materials solidify into crystals that look like little rocks that get stuck in your ureter and then block the flow of urine to your bladder – which can be very painful,” explains Dr. Lyons.
The most common sign of a kidney stone is severe, sudden, sharp pain under the rib cage on the right or left side of the body (where your kidneys are located). Other symptoms of kidney stones may include nausea, fever or urinary symptoms such as blood in the urine or the urge to go more often. The pain can come on suddenly, but can also disappear just as quickly. This is because the pain occurs only when the stones block the flow of urine to the bladder, and because stones are small enough to move around, it can come and go.
Tips for Avoiding Kidney Stones
Dr. Lyons says he has a “Top 3” list of tips he gives any first-time kidney stone sufferer to prevent future stones.
“Once you’ve had a kidney stone, you have a 50% chance of making another stone if you change nothing in your diet or lifestyle,” he explains.
Dr. Lyons’ top tips for preventing kidney stones include:
#1 – Become a Water Bottle Person
To stay hydrated enough to prevent kidney stones, you need to drink 80 to 100 ounces of water a day – which isn’t easy to do if you aren’t paying attention and/or don’t have water on hand at all times. Dr. Lyons recommends investing in a nice water bottle and carrying it everywhere you go.
#2 – Drink Fresh-Squeezed Juice
Adding fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice to your water every day can increase urinary citrate levels, which can help prevent kidney stones. While it doesn’t work quite as well as the prescribed potassium citrate given to patients with recurring stones, it’s a great natural option for those who prefer to avoid medications or have never had a kidney stone.
#3 – Focus on Diet
Dr. Lyons jokes that you should avoid everything that tastes good to prevent kidney stones. In truth, foods that are high in salt and animal protein (ie. meat, poultry, eggs) can increase your risk of kidney stones. Other foods and drinks to avoid in excess include: nuts, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, carbonated drinks and tea.
If you experience the symptoms of kidney stones, call your primary care doctor or WakeMed’s Kidney Stone Center at 919-350-ROCK, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Evaluation/ diagnosis may include a combination of imaging studies and a physical exam. If kidney stones are found, your provider(s) can help you determine which treatment option is best for you.
Contact the WakeMed Kidney Stone Center Today
We are the only hospital in the Triangle to offer IMMEDIATE help for kidney stones. Call the Stone Phone at 919-350-ROCK (7625)
*All calls that are determined to not be related to a kidney stone will be referred for further evaluation per the provider’s discretion.