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Avoid kidney stones, drink water in the summer weather - Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner 8/1/2014

(Standard-Examiner) OGDEN -- There's still over a month left of summer, so while you're spraying on the DEET to avoid mosquito bites and slathering on the sunscreen to avoid burns, don't forget to drink plenty of water to avoid the pain and misery of kidney stones.

Dehydration is the number one cause of kidney stones during the hot weather. A new study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, shows as daily temperatures increase, so does the number of patients seeking treatment for kidney stones.

“We found that as daily temperatures rise, there is a rapid increase in the probability of patients presenting over the next 20 days with kidney stones,” said study leader Dr. Gregory E. Tasian, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and staff member of the Hospital’s Kidney Stone Center and the Hospital Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness.

Kidney stones brings half a million patients a year to U.S. emergency rooms, according to the study and have increased markedly over the world in the past three decades. While stones remain more common in adults, the numbers of children developing kidney stones have climbed at a dramatically high rate over the last 25 years. The factors causing the increase in kidney stones are currently unknown, but may be influenced by changes in diet and fluid intake.

Dr. Tyler Christensen, a urologist at Ogden Clinic, said he always tells his patients to drink two quarts of fluids per day, more if they are working out in the hot sun or are dealing with a current kidney stone.

"When you work in the hot sun, you sweat and lose salts and fluids," he said. "If you're not staying hydrated your body may process chemicals abnormally, causing a stone to form and they are extremely painful. I've had women tell me they would rather give birth again than to have a kidney stone."

Kidney stones are crystals that form in the kidneys when the urine is overly concentrated with minerals or protein breakdown products, said Dr. Jared Potter, a family physician at Kaysville Family Medicine. Although dehydration is the most likely cause, there are also other risk factors, Christensen and Potter said. They include people who have a family history, people with gout, those who have had gastric bypass surgery, a high protein diet, high sodium diet, brown sodas, and an excess of dairy products, calcium and vitamin C.

"Men are at higher risk than women with nearly four out of five instances occurring in men," Potter said.

Christensen said symptoms of kidney stones include severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs, pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin, pain while urinating, nausea and vomiting, chills, frequent urge to urinate and cloudy or foul smelling urine.

Treatment depends on the size of the stone, Potter said.

"Small stones will usually pass on their own or with a little push, so we use anti-inflammatories to treat the pain, a muscle relaxer to relax the tube so that the stone can descend and pass more easily, and plenty of fluids to flush the stone out and to dilute the urine to decrease the chance of another stone forming," he said.

If the stone is moderate in size, ultrasound waves are used to break down the stone into smaller fragments so they can pass. If the stone is too large for either of those treatments, surgery is needed.