66. Kidney Stones: A Painless Solution

John awoke from a deep sleep. An agonizing pain radiated down the side of his abdomen and into his groin. Years earlier, he’d experienced the same pain when he developed a kidney stone from either too much calcium or uric acid in his urine. At that time, a surgeon had removed the stone. This time, his doctor planned to use a procedure known as lithotripsy to dissolve the stone. 

Lithotripsy causes little or no pain. John will recover more quickly, and it costs less than surgery. Lithotripsy is usually performed as an out-patient procedure in which the patient sits on a special chair and is submerged up to his or her shoulders in a tub of warm water. Harmless shock waves are directed to the areas where the stone is located, and they break it into fragments. After the treatment, the patient drinks lots of water to flush the stone fragments from his or her system. Kidney stones can and do recur, though.

If you’re prone to developing stones, heed these guidelines:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids—preferably up to twelve glasses of water daily—to help flush away the substances that form stones in the kidneys.

  2. Save any stones you pass, so your doctor can have them analyzed. (Treatment varies with the type of stones you form.)

  3. Follow your doctor’s dietary advice. If you tend to form calcium stones, you may or may not be advised to limit calcium in your diet, but you may be told to limit salt and sodium. Too much sodium can cause you to lose more calcium in your urine. If you form uric acid stones, your doctor may recommend that you limit high oxalate foods. These include spinach, beets, chocolate, rhubarb, and coffee. You may also be advised to eat less meat.

  4. Take medications as advised.

  5. See your doctor as often as advised to be sure your kidneys are functioning as they should.

Chapter 2
  1. Major Medical Conditions:

  2. Prevention, Detection, and Treatment