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Treating and preventing kidney stones

Every year more than half a million people develop kidney stones - a painful condition that occurs when solid pieces of waste in the urine crystallize in the kidney or bladder. New research suggests that the number of people who will likely develop kidney stones in their lifetime is on the rise.

Some kidney stones are as tiny as a grain of sand and can be passed without too much difficulty. Larger stones can stay in the kidney or move down the urinary tract where they can block urine and cause severe pain.

Smaller stones that can’t be passed sometimes require endoscopic treatment – a minimally invasive way to break up the stones and pull out the fragments.It’s routinely an outpatient procedure depending on the number and size of stones. Larger stones may require surgery to remove.

Most people fall into one of two categories – those who are predisposed to kidney stones and those who aren’t. 

After treatment, you can study a person’s urine to determine what chemicals are causing the stone formation. Lifestyle modifications like drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables along with medications that alter the chemicals in the urine can help prevent new stones from forming.

If you suspect a kidney stone and are experiencing severe pain, blood in your urine, fever, chills, nausea or vomiting, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Mark Currin, MD



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