Middle-aged white men get kidney stones, right? Well, yes, but increasingly, the often excruciatingly painful condition is becoming much more prevalent in other populations as well, particularly young people, women and African Americans. That’s according to new research based on patient records from 153,000 South Carolinians.
Dr. Gregory Tasian, a pediatric urologist, and his group analyzed records from children and adult patients in South Carolina over a 16-year period, from 1997 to 2012, and during that time frame discovered that the risk of kidney stones doubled for boys and girls, and it increased 45% for women.
And among black patients, the incidence “increased 15% more than in whites within each five-year period covered by the study,” the report indicated.
Kidney stones aren’t really “stones”; they are technically small, hard deposits made of minerals and acid salts that form inside your kidneys. And while they’re not usually dangerous, when they begin to pass from the kidney into and through the urinary tract, they can be incredibly painful. Some cases require surgery, but many patients muddle through with painkillers and a prescription to drink plenty of water.
Dr. Dennis Kubinski, a Roper St. Francis affiliated urologist at The Kidney Stone Center of Charleston, wasn’t surprised by the new study’s results. “Childhood obesity is becoming more and more common, and obesity is strongly correlated with kidney stones,” he said. “We don’t see a ton of kids in our practice, but obviously the percentage of kids getting kidney stones is going up so we’re seeing an increase.”
The best way to prevent kidney stones, says Dr. Kubinski, is to eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, stay well-hydrated, preferably with water (not sugary drinks), minimize salt intake and exercise regularly.