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More Women Are Getting Kidney Stones, Study Finds

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Well, this sounds painful: Kidney stones are on the rise right now, according to a new Mayo Clinic study. Growing evidence in the February 2018 research suggests that kidney stones in women are becoming particularly common. So now is a great time to arm yourself with all the need-to-know info to protect yourself from this painful condition.

What are kidney stones?

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in a person's kidney from substances in the urine. Some kidney stones are tiny, while others are the size of a pearl. Although most kidney stones pass out of the body without a problem, some get stuck in the urinary tract — stopping the person from urinating and causing him or her intense pain. Although kidney stones are more commonly seen in men, the latest research shows that kidney stones in women are becoming more prevalent — particularly for women ages 18 to 39. For the women in the study, these infection stones were often the result of repeated urinary tract infections.

"Symptomatic kidney stones are becoming more common in both men and women," said lead investigator Andrew Rule, MD, in a release. "This is due in part to the increased use of CT scans to diagnose kidney stones."

Luckily, doctors have several methods of treating kidney stones today — including shock waves, a scope, and surgery. You should see a doctor for kidney stone treatment if you experience the following symptoms: extreme pain in your back or side that will not go away, blood in your urine, fever and chills, vomiting, urine that smells bad or looks cloudy, and a burning feeling when you urinate.

What causes kidney stones?

Kidney stones are caused by high levels of certain minerals in the urine — such as calcium, oxalate, and phosphorus. At normal levels, these minerals usually don't cause any issues. People who are most likely to get kidney stones include people with a family history of kidney stones, people who don't drink enough liquids, and people who already have certain urinary or kidney-related conditions. Depending on what mineral is causing a person's kidney stone, eating food with a high level of said mineral might make it even more likely for him or her to get one.

How to Prevent Future Kidney Stones

For people who struggle with kidney stones, medical professionals often suggest making dietary changes, such as drinking more water, lowering salt intake, and cutting back on meat. However, this varies widely for patients depending on what type of kidney stone they have. For example, a patient with calcium oxalate stones might be asked to avoid foods like spinach and nuts, as well as to reduce animal protein and sodium intake.

People who have had a kidney stone once are more likely to get one again, so if you've ever experienced this condition, talk to your doctor about what changes would help your specific case. Never make a drastic change to your diet before speaking with a trusted medical professional first.

Let's do our best to stay healthy for ourselves and our loved ones!

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