Know the Facts about Preventing Kidney Stones

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By Ochsner Medical Center
    Each year, more than half a million people go to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems. Approximately one in 10 people will have a kidney stone at some time in their lives, and the number of people in the United States with kidney stones has been increasing over the past 30 years.
    “A kidney stone is a hard object that is made from crystallized chemicals in the urine” explains Dr. James Dudley Atkinson, IV, a urologist for Ochsner Baton Rouge. “When there are too many minerals in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. The crystals attract other elements and join together to form a solid that will get larger unless if manages to pass. Some kidney stones are as small as a grain of sand, while others are as large as a pebble.  Some people form stones that fill the entire kidney.
    To decrease your risk of kidney stones, drinking enough fluid will help keep your urine less concentrated and lower the risk of making or worsening stones.  “The solution to pollution is dilution” he says.  “On those hot days where you are sweating it out and not urinating, drink a lot more water and get things going again”. 
    You can reduce excess salt in your diet, like those in salty potato chips, french fries, sandwich meats, canned soups, packaged meals and even sports drinks. Also, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup should be limited to small quantities.  The pump in the kidney that gets rid of salt is run by calcium, so the more salt you eat, the more calcium ends up in the urine.  High urine calcium leads to stones most of the time.
    If you think you may have a kidney stone, see a doctor as soon as possible. But pain that might be confused for a passing stone can come from many other causes.  An x-ray or CT scan is the usual way to check for stones.  After you are diagnosed with one, you may be asked to drink extra fluid in an attempt to flush out the stone out in the urine or the stone may need to be removed with the help of an outpatient surgical treatment. Usually, you don't have to be hospitalized.
    For a list of Ochsner physicians practicing urology, visit and look for the “Find A Doctor” tab.