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Water Helps Prevent, Pass Kidney Stones

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RALEIGH, N.C. — In addition to dehydration and heat exhaustion, summer is also well known among physicians as the season for kidney stones.

Kidney stones are mineral deposits that form in the kidneys and eventually pass through the ureter to the bladder. Doctors look for blood in the urine, and X-rays and a CT scan are used to confirm the diagnosis.

The size of kidney stones can vary, depending on the minerals that form them. Men of northern European descent are most at risk for developing them, but women can also get them.

"The pain is just unbearable. I do not ever want to go through this again," said Michelle Ezzell, who recently developed kidney stones.

Ezzell said she felt fine one minute and then felt excruciating pain just above her right hip.

"It was almost like the feeling of being kicked in the side by a horse," she said.

Dr. Joseph Khoury, of Raleigh Urology, said most patients with kidney stones are giving medication to handle the pain and are encouraged to drink plenty of water to help the stones pass through their system.

"One of the hardest things I need to do is to coach patients into drinking enough fluid," Khoury said, noting water and lemonade help prevent stones from forming.

To help larger stones pass, physicians sometimes use lithotripsy, which used shock waves to break the stones into smaller pieces.

Ezzell said she wasn't too fond of the water cure for her kidney stones. "I love my sweet teas and Mountain Dews," she said.

Tea and soda are among foods and drinks that contribute to stone formation, Khoury said.

When someone gets dehydrated, especially in the summer heat, minerals left in the system by these foods and drinks don't get diluted or flushed out. Instead, they stick together and form stones.


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