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1 in 10 People Will Get Kidney Stones During Their Lifetime, Are You at Risk?

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Albany/HV: 1 in 10 People Will Get Kidney Stones During Their Lifetime, Are You at Risk?
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If you've ever had a kidney stone, you know how painful it can be.

"Women who have been both pregnant and gone through labor and have had kidney stones almost uniformly say they would rather go through labor again," said Dr. Stephen Knohl, Upstate University Hospital Nephrologist.

Kidney stones are solid masses made up of tiny crystals that form in the tubules that make urine and drain the kidneys.

"If those stones get big enough, they can block the ability of the kidney to get rid of the urine and that can lead to kidney failure, so that's really a great concern," said Knohl.

One in ten people will get kidney stones during their lifetime. Kidney stones are most common in men over the age of 40. Obesity, certain diets, dehydration and living in warmer climates also all increase your chances of developing stones.

"Symptoms if you have them, pain is one of the big ones. You can see pain in the urine. Maybe burning when you urinate. Those tend to be the kinds of symptoms, but it can be vague, maybe just some belly pain. Maybe nauseated, maybe you vomit," said Knohl. "You can see stones that get to sort of the golf ball size but that's not the norm. Generally you're talking in the millimeters to maybe centimeter."

Experts say the best way to reduce your risk for kidney stones is to drink more water and make some dietary changes, but they might not be ones you automatically think of.

"Certain foods that are very rich in Oxalate like spinach, rhubarb, berries, chocolate, they can increase your risk. And now people are getting into this juicing fad and they're juicing with a lot of these green leafy vegetables and they're now using more exotic fruit like star fruit. There are very rich in oxalate and we're seeing a spike in stones," said Knohl.

Experts recommend if you're going to eat these foods, do it in moderation. Avoid high salt and calcium supplements, but continue to eat calcium-rich foods.

You should also drink between two and three liters of water every day.

If you're at high risk, there are medications to reduce the likelihood of developing stones.

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