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Health Team

Painful kidney stones often caused by diet

Posted November 1, 2012

Last February, Marie Watson had friends over at her house when she began feeling terrible.

“I got abdominal pain and back pain, really severe,” she recalled.

The pain was so bad that she went to Duke Raleigh Hospital's emergency department, where a CT scan revealed the problem: a kidney stone.

“It was blocking the kidney, which is why it causes pain,” said Dr. Michael Lipkin, urologist at Duke Raleigh Hospital.

He said Watson's stone was only a centimeter in size, but its long shape made it less likely to pass on its own.

“So, they had to go in and do a laser surgery and put a stent in,” Watson said.

Dehydration, obesity, a diet high in salt and not enough calcium are among several factors that increase the possibility of kidney stones. It can even be due to a genetic predisposition. The answer is in your urine.

The answer for Watson? Genetics.

“Family history increases your risk of forming a stone about three-fold,” Lipkin said.

He Lipkin says there are several medications that may be added to changes in diet to prevent stones. Watson is on a medication, and she drinks more fluids.

“Lemonade,” she said. “Drinking a lot of lemonade.”

Lemons “have something called ‘citrate’ in them, which actually inhibits stone formation,” Lipkin said.

It's working for Watson, and she's passing the news on to the rest of her family.

“I told them you need to go find out how you can keep from having them,” she said.

Most kidney stones are made up of oxalate, a substance found in healthy green vegetables, tea, chocolate, strawberries and blueberries. Those foods can still be eaten, but make sure to drink about three liters of fluid a day and have three servings of foods rich in calcium.

Calcium binds to oxalate in the intestines, so the oxalate passes out of the body. If the oxalate stays in the intestines, it ends up in the urine and can form stones.
 

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  • ohmygosh Nov 5, 11:22 a.m.

    Servent. You're wrong on this one. In fact, both UNC and Duke kidney stone expert urologists told me that there is very little that changes in diet can do for kidney stones. It's water and heredity.

    Of course if you ingest nothing, you will not get stones.

  • Servent Nov 5, 8:53 a.m.

    All are caused by diet!!!!!
    99% of all ailments are from out diets. Food and medications
    are what is killing us!!! Eat raw vegi's, fruits and just plain good food, no more fast food, COOK if you don't know how LEARN.

  • For-Better-Or-Worse Nov 2, 4:23 p.m.

    My husband and I have both had multiple kidney stones and our son had his first one at the age of 10 (he has since had two more in the past three years). The best thing we have done is to eliminate ice tea from our diets. Tea is high in oxalate and having been raised in the south we drank it by the gallons.

  • asocha2 Nov 2, 2:33 p.m.

    I have had over 10 kidney stones in the last decade. 4 this year alone and I still have 4 in my right kidney and 3 in my left. I also had lithotripsy in 2010 for one that blocked and would not pass. The pain I have endured with these things is unreal. IV dilaudid in an ER setting barley takes the edge off. I am now on a medication called potassium citrate which and drinking TONS of water daily. The medication and water should prevent new stones from forming up to 90% or so I was told. The unfortunate thing is the ones in me will eventually move. They are like ticking time bombs. Anyone who has ever had these things will know what I am talking about.

  • ohmygosh Nov 2, 1:53 p.m.

    I was told not all lemonade is created equal. The frozen concentrate isn't the best source. Doc's seem to want fresh squeezed lemonade. Good luck with that.

    Another thing is calcium. More calcium (counter intuitive) is actually helpful by being present to bind with the oxalate. Unfortunately, more calcium this had had the effect of driving my system to phosphate stones instead of calcium oxalate. They form faster and get bigger in a hurry.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 2, 1:46 p.m.

    I will start drinking lemonade. I have had kidney stones and don't won't to go through that again. Good information.

  • boolittlek Nov 2, 12:10 p.m.

    I've only had one, but it was the worst pain of my life. I'm never without a water bottle at work. I had never heard about drinking lemonade to prevent them, but I drink a lot of it at home--good deal!

  • smegma Nov 2, 11:22 a.m.

    glass of lemonade a day can keep the doctors away? i can dig it. mix with a little vodka and mmm-MMM hush yo mouth suga

  • bmac813 Nov 2, 8:09 a.m.

    I have to laugh anout the Lemonade, back in !990 I ask my Dr. if Lemonade would help me with my Stones. he said No, Drink Water, which is also good, But you have to drink about 96oz a Day. Anyways, Right before he retired I was in his Office and he said to me, You have to do what I do , Every night I make about a Gallon of Lemonade when I get home. I smiled and said you told me it wouldn't work. he said I never told you that.
    But about a year ago I read in a little paper I get called the BOTTOM LINE a DR. from Calf. said to drink Lemonade and it will eleminate about 80% of Kidney Stones.
    I only had about 12 of them, Mine are so big a old man told me that he could stone his Driveway with them.
    DRINK LEMONADE,