Hotter temperatures bring higher risk of kidney stones
By Noah May, DO, urologist at Mercy Fitzgerald and Mercy Philadelphia Hospitals
Darby, PA (May 27, 2014): Summer has unofficially started and it can mean more than just an increase in temperature. It can also mean an increased risk of kidney stones, which affect approximately 3.8 million people in the U.S.
The most common reason for developing kidney stones is dehydration. As we sweat more in the summertime, our bodies can become dehydrated. Without proper hydration, the body's fluids become more concentrated with dietary minerals like calcium, which increases the risk that the minerals will concentrate into stones. Many people don't drink enough fluids to compensate for the warmer temperatures or they drink fluids that work against the body's need for fluids — such as beer, iced tea, colas and caffeinated beverages.
Factors that can increase your risk of kidney stones include recurrent urinary tract infections and a family history. For those at high risk of kidney stones, it is recommended that you drink about eight cups of non-caffeinated liquid per day, particularly water. Citrate is an inhibitor of urinary crystal formation so orange juice and lemonade can help protect against kidney stones.
A diet high in refined sugars, salt and animal protein may be a factor in kidney stone formation. Animal protein acidifies the urine and promotes crystal formation. Excess sodium causes more calcium to enter into the urine, raising the risk for stone formation. High-fructose corn syrup also increases urinary calcium excretion.
The first symptom of a kidney stone is usually extreme pain in the back and side in the area of the kidney or in the lower abdomen, which occurs when a stone acutely blocks the flow of urine. Although some kidney stones pass on their own, seek immediate medical attention if:
- you experience pain so severe that you can't sit still nor find a comfortable position,
- the pain is accompanied by nausea and vomiting or fever and chills,
- you have blood in your urine or
- you have difficulty passing urine.
Urologists are physicians who are specially trained to treat kidney stones.
To find a physician near you call 1.877.GO MERCY or visit www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.