How to Keep Most Kidney Stones Away

These simple steps work for most people

Anyone who has had kidney stones describes the pain in vivid detail. Many women even claim that passing kidney stones far exceeds the pain of labor. That's not surprising if you closely examine most "stones," many of which look more like a bundle of spikes and needles. The tubes through which they pass from the kidneys and the bladder are as sensitive as the inside of your eyelid.

About 5 percent of women and 10 percent of men will experience at least one attack of kidney stones, and a third of the cases need hospitalization. People with kidney stone disease -- nephrolithiasis -- usually feel intense, sudden pain in the back or flank. Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain can also occur, and blood may show up in the urine, making it appear pink. Doctors often ask patients to strain their urine to collect the stones since certain types of stone are sometimes treated differently.

Someone who has experienced one attack runs a much higher risk of subsequent episodes. For anyone at risk of kidney stones, specialists recommend drinking 12 full glasses of water each day. Caffeinated beverages should be limited to two drinks a day. Caffeine can have a diuretic effect that concentrates urine and could increase the risk of stones.

A report from the New Jersey Star-Ledger summarizes the treatments used when stones don't pass on their own. The U.S. National Institute on Digestive Disorders, Diabetes and Kidney Disease offers detailed information on kidney stones and their treatment.

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