Jamaica Hospital Urologists Warn: Stay Hydrated This Summer to Avoid Kidney Stones

You are out on a hot summer day participating in some type of physical activity and you feel a sudden sharp pain on your side or back. While the pain could be a number of things, there is a good chance that you have a kidney stone.

ThinkstockPhotos-477434718With summer’s heat and more increased physical activity, dehydration is a much more likely occurrence. With adequate hydration, calcium and other crystal forming substances cannot concentrate in the urine, but when someone is dehydrated, there is not enough fluid to dilute these substances, potentially causing kidney stones to form. Even though kidney stones are less than a centimeter in size, they can still cause intense discomfort.

Urologists at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center offer the following tips to reduce your chances of developing kidney stones this summer:

• Drink enough water – If you’re prone to kidney stones, your best defense is to stay hydrated during hot summer months. Hot temperatures make your body lose more water than usual, so it is important to replenish it throughout the day. You may need more than 64 ounces of water per day, depending on your weight and activity level.

• Eat less meat – A diet rich in animal protein can increase your risk for kidney stones, so try to minimize your consumption of burgers and other barbeque favorites and substitute them with other protein sources, such as beans, nuts and seeds.

• Limit your salt intake – Excess salt absorbs water in your system, which can also dehydrate you. Limit your daily sodium intake to 1500 mg or less per day by avoiding fast food, reading nutrition labels when you buy groceries, and cooking with less salt and more herbs and spices.

• Drink less caffeine – Even though you may think you are getting enough liquid by consuming caffeinated sodas, coffee, or tea, caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it can dehydrate you

Kidney stones sometimes do not cause symptoms. If the crystals are small enough, they may pass through urinary tract and out of the body without being felt. However, if a stone is large enough to attract attention, the first symptom is usually severe pain in the back and side that begins when the stone moves into the urinary tract, blocking the flow of urine. The pain may later spread to the groin and lower abdomen. Other symptoms include a persistent urge to urinate, painful urination, and pink, red, or brown urine

Seek medical attention if you have pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting or fever and chills, or if pain is so severe that you cannot sit still or find a comfortable position.

Jamaica Hospital’s Department of Urology offers a wide variety of treatment options for those suffering with kidney stones as well as many other conditions. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-7110.