(05/13/13) - Kidney stones are a painful problem, and myths may be making them worse for some of the million or so people who are diagnosed with them every year. About one in 10 adults will get kidney stones in their lifetimes.
They really do look like little stones, and often make themselves known, as Jennifer Miller found out, with sharp pains in the back or side, "It was horrible pain. It's the worst pain. It's just like childbirth."
Jennifer has had two kidney stones, and both needed to be surgically removed. During her ordeal, she heard a lot of bad information.
"There's so many myths that I found out that aren't true," Jennifer says.
The biggest one kidney stone specialist, Dr. Michael Lipkin, says he hears is that avoiding calcium cuts the chances of kidney stone recurrence.
Stones are about 75 percent, calcium, but avoiding it is not the answer, Lipkin says, "avoiding calcium is detrimental to kidney stone recurrence."
To reduce the risk, he recommends 800 to 1,000 milligrams of calcium, or about three dairy servings, a day. He also tells many patients who have had stones to drink 100 ounces, or about three liters, of fluids a day for prevention.
Some people say the extra minerals in hard water actually cause kidney stones? But that is also likely a myth. Research shows hard water has little to no impact on your risk.
Dr. Lipkin says when it comes to cola, "it is controversial."
While he believes some are bad, "in my practice, I do tell patients to try to avoid dark colas."
Many dark sodas contain phosphoric acid, which has a questionable link to an increase in kidney stone risk.
But, fear not, he says, "there are actually sodas that can help prevent stones."
Lipkin points to citrus sodas, like sprite, diet orange soda, even mountain dew as possibly helpful in preventing calcium in the urine from forming a stone. Still, he says, water is your best bet.
A few more facts about kidney stones:
They are more common in Caucasians.
Men get them more often than women, but the number of women getting them is on the rise.
If you get more than two, you are more likely to have recurring problems with kidney stones.
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