Kidney stone misinformation

Specialist helps separate fact from fiction

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If a sharp pain hits your back or side, beware, it could be a warning sign of a kidney stone. Every year one million people in the U.S. are treated for them and there's a lot of misinformation about the masses.

Jennifer Miller has had two kidney stones.

"It was horrible pain. It's the worst pain. It's just like childbirth," said Miller.

Both needed to be surgically removed. During her ordeals, she heard a lot of bad information.

"There's so many myths that I found out that aren't true," added Miller.

The biggest one Kidney Stone Specialist Dr. Michael Lipkin with Duke University hears? Avoiding calcium cuts the chances of kidney stone recurrence. Wrong! While it makes up about 75 percent of stones, Lipkin said, "avoiding calcium is detrimental to kidney stone recurrence."

To reduce the risk, he recommends 800 to one thousand milligrams of calcium or about three dairy servings a day. He also tells many patients, like Miller, who've had a stone to drink 100 ounces, about three liters of fluids a day to prevent future stones; but could the extra minerals in hard water actually cause kidney stones? Probably not! Research shows hard water has little to no impact on your risk.

Lipkin says when it comes to cola he believes some are bad.

"It is controversial. In my practice I do tell patients to try to avoid dark colas," said Lipkin.

Many dark sodas contain phosphoric acid which has a questionable link to an increase in kidney stone risk.

However, as Lipkin explained, "there are actually sodas that can help prevent stones."

He says those with citrus, like Sprite, diet orange soda, even Mountain Dew can help prevent calcium in the urine from forming a stone, but make sure you have plenty of water too!

A few more facts about kidney stones, they are more common in Caucasians. And men get them more often than women, but the number of women getting them is on the rise. Finally, if you have more than one, you're much more likely to develop additional stones in your lifetime.

Additional Information:

Kidney stones (renal lithiasis) are small, hard deposits that form inside the kidneys. The stones are made of mineral and acid salts. Kidney stones have many causes and can affect any part of your urinary tract — from your kidneys to your bladder. Often, stones form when the urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together. (SOURCE:

SYMPTOMS: A kidney stone may not cause symptoms until it moves around within the kidney or passes into the ureter. At that point, these signs and symptoms may occur:

  • Pain on urination
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent urge to urinate
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present


CAUSES: Kidney stones form when urine contains more crystal-forming substances — such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid — than the fluid in urine can dilute. At the same time, urine may lack substances that keep crystals from sticking together, creating an ideal environment for kidney stones to form. (SOURCE:

KIDNEY STONES AND KIDS: No exact information about the incidence of kidney stones in children is available, but many kidney specialists report seeing more children with this condition in recent years. While kidney stones are more common in adults, they do occur in infants, children, and teenagers from all races and ethnicities. To prevent kidney stones, health care providers and their patients must understand what is causing the stones to form. Especially in children with suspected metabolic abnormalities or with recurrent stones, a 24-hour urine collection is obtained to measure daily urine volume and to determine if any underlying mineral abnormality is making a child more likely to form stones. Based on the analysis of the collected urine, the treatment can be individualized to address a metabolic problem. In all circumstances, children should drink plenty of fluids to keep the urine diluted and flush away substances that could form kidney stones. Urine should be almost clear. (SOURCE:

TREATMENT: Passing kidney stones can be quite painful, but the stones usually cause no permanent damage. Depending on your situation, you may need nothing more than to take pain medication and drink lots of water to pass a kidney stone. In other instances, surgery may be needed. Your doctor may recommend preventive treatment to reduce your risk of recurrent kidney stones if you're at increased risk of developing them again. (SOURCE:

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