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.