The People's Perspective on Medicine

Painful Kidney Stones Are Becoming More Common

A Mayo Clinic study shows an increase in the incidence of painful kidney stones. Changing dietary patterns and medications may be contributing.

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.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I had my first kidney stone in 1984, at the age of 30. Since then, I have had many kidney stones. Three or so years ago, I noticed on my blood work that my “serum calcium” was slightly elevated. I reviewed previous labs and found that it had been elevated for many years. I got on Google and diagnosed myself with a hyperparathyroidism. (I had many other symptoms besides kidney stones.) Found a doctor and got checked out. Sure enough, I had an adenoma on one of my parathyroids. Had outpatient surgery and have been fine ever since (caucasian female, age 64).

Twenty five or so I had very painful kidney stones. And, had them broken up.
I was advised to not drink ice tea, and drink much more water. I have been ver
good about water consumption, and do not drink ice tea.
I pray that I don’t have ever a repeat of these stones.

I had a severe kidney stone back 15 yrs ago. In the hospital my Uric acid levels were normal.. I was spring and I was living on decongestant s..
I’m convinced that was it. I had another problem 3 months ago again. But this time my doc had me on a restricted water intake because of a recent heart attack..
So I upped the water intake and have been great since. Avoid all sugar. And artificial sweeteners as well

I am 67 yr old female and have had kidney stones several times over the past 3 decades; lithotripsy twice. Since I am allergic to dairy casein, I eat only dairy fats, butter or small amounts of cream. I do like a Pepsi sometimes, drink 1/2 C. coffee in a.m., and well water the rest of the day. About once a week, I squeeze 1/2 lemon into my morning water. After trying several suggestions from Docs, I think I may have lucked onto something the docs never mentioned: I use a magnesium spray on my skin every night; I don’t like taking pills of any kind, but that may be easier for some folks. It’s been several yrs now since my last kidney stone incident.

Back in the late 1980’s I came down with what was later diagnosed as kidney stones. At that point in my life I did not drink much water. After going through that I have always tried to make sure I drink enough, at least one glass at every meal since that makes it easy to remember. And some extra water here and there when I think of it. Since that time I have not had any problems.

Had and passed two kidney stones a couple of years apart. Not sure what causes them as there are many theories. It may be more related to a person’s makeup as my wife and I essentially eat the same foods and I developed two stones whereas her kidneys are clear. One important thing that everyone seems to agree on is to drink plenty of water to keep the kidneys flushed out of small growing stones. If you get one…….good luck. It is no fun passing a kidney stone.

Since most Americans are deficient in magnesium, and that mineral is essential for proper calcium breakdown in the body, I wonder if this might be partially to blame for so many instances of kidney stones.

Adding a calcium supplement such as calcium citrate can and did in myself, stop the stone occurances. I had read about this supplement some years back in an article about other non mainline medical practices.

You are correct in mentioning a lox oxalate diet for kidney stones. Google low oxalate diet.
There is a healthy eating group in my city. We eat gluten-free and low oxalate. Our kidney stones are gone.

IP6, derived from Whole Grains, Blocks the formation of kidney Stones. Published work by Grases..I have been taking it at 4 gms. a day for yrs in divided doses on an empty stomach.
One capsule of 500mg per day should be effective..See Grases Work…

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