Kidney stones can cause excruciating pain. For some patients, a kidney stone becomes a medical emergency.
How Often Do People Suffer from Painful Kidney Stones?
A new study from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that the rate of painful kidney stones has increased dramatically over the last 28 years (Kittanamongkolchai et al, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, online, Feb. 6, 2018). The scientists looked at medical records for residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, where the Mayo Clinic is located. They analyzed data for people treated for kidney stones between 1984 and 2012. They found more than 10,000 adults with symptomatic or asymptomatic kidney stones.
Young women under 40 were four times more likely to develop kidney stones in 2012 than they had been in 1984. The rate has doubled in men. Because men started with a greater incidence than women, the absolute incidence ended up being similar. It was 154/100,000 person-years in men. For women, the rate was 166/100,000 person-years. Most of the increase was due to asymptomatic kidney stones detected on imaging.
Painful Kidney Stones in Kids:
Even children are being diagnosed more frequently with kidney stones. Adolescent girls are at particular risk. Most of these cases were symptomatic.
Why Would the Incidence of Kidney Stones Be Increasing?
High levels of calcium in the urine are suspected as the cause of many kidney stones. A diet high in salt, animal protein and sugar can increase this problem. Insulin resistance is also linked to high absorption and urinary excretion of calcium. This increases the probability of kidney stone formation.
Although the Mayo Clinic scientists do not mention it, certain popular medicines such as acid-suppressing drugs also increase the risk of kidney stones. Foods high in oxalates, such as beets and Swiss chard, kale and parsley, or even chocolate or turmeric, may also raise the danger of urinary stones.