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Help in preventing repeated bouts with kidney stones

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Monday, September 26, 2022
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Obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome factor into kidney stones, and anyone with those should talk about prevention with their doctor.

PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. (WPVI) -- Nearly everyone knows somebody who has had a kidney stone. But some get them more than once.

It took a Phoenixville man years to find the doctor who could tell him why, and help him lower his chances.

"I had my first kidney stone when I was 24," remembers Kevin Pomian.

And he's had that same painful experience often in the 32 years since.

"52 known ones. I could have more that I just ended up passing," says Kevin.

Like many kidney stone patients, Kevin was told to avoid a list of foods and drinks that encourage their formation.

But when stones kept forming, doctors didn't offer Kevin much more, till he saw Dr. Justin Friedlander, a Temple Health urologist.

Dr. Friedlander found that Kevin's basic body chemistry needed adjustment with medications.

For most people, however, there are usually key factors at work:

First, what's your fluid intake?

"We probably, as a whole, don't drink enough water," says Dr. Friedlander.

Sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages are a problem. Coffee isn't.

Next, how much calcium do you get?

"Too little calcium is a problem. Too much calcium is a problem," he notes.

Aim for two to three servings a day.

Also, lower the salt in your diet, There's a lot of it in pre-packaged foods and restaurant dishes.

On the flip side, get more citrus fruits and juices -- they have a compound that discourages kidney stones.

Many stones will pass on their own, but if not, the primary treatment involves passing a tiny camera through the urinary tract.

"Then either the stones are removed with a small basket or grasper, or fragmented into, fragmented into smaller pieces with a laser," says Dr. Friedlander.

Kevin has had at least 15 or 16 procedures.

But with Dr. Friedlander's adjustments, and constantly drinking water, he's been stone-free for 15 months. That's his longest stretch in 25 years.

"I'd rather go to the bathroom three times a night than go to the emergency room at 3 in the morning with pain," Kevin notes

Dr. Friedlander says obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome also factor into kidney stones, and anyone with those should talk about prevention with their doctor.