Kidney stones are one of the most painful conditions to stop a person in his or her tracks and send them to the emergency room begging for relief. That is what happened to one man, who actually worked in the emergency room at West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital.
Over the past eight years, Jeff Clark has had three painful bouts with kidney stones. "It was pretty excruciating, it was probably one of the worst pains I've ever had," he said.
Clark worked in the WCCH ER and ended up there himself, doubled over in pain and vomiting from its intensity. That is something urologist Thomas Alderson with the Urology Clinic of WCCH says is common with kidney stones. "They had rather deliver a child than to have a kidney stone," said Dr. Alderson, "they come in with excruciating pain that they usually grade on a scale of 1-10 as a 10 out of 10."
The small, hard deposits of mineral and acid salts form in the kidneys and block the urine flow from the kidney to the bladder. "They'll fall off into the collecting portion of the kidney and start down the urinary tract and that's usually when you start having symptoms is when they fall into the ureter and cause an obstruction," said Dr. Alderson.
Your genes can put you at a higher risk, but the stones are also more common in men and linked to a diet with too much protein, salt, sugar and sodas. "My consumption of diet sodas and caffeine were definitely high," said Clark.
One of the best ways to avoid having to meet with a urologist over kidney stones is to limit the food with high oxalates, like rhubarb, broccoli, chocolate, peanut butter and dark-colored sodas. "We try to get the patient who has a higher concentration of oxalates in their urine to avoid these foods," said Dr. Alderson.
Diluting the urine by drinking a half gallon of water a day also helps reduce your risk.
Whatever you do, Clark says do not wait to get medical attention. "When you start having that cramping pain, it's a real distinct pain. The pain medication really helps the process of passing that stone," he said.
Stones can pass after a couple of days if they are under five millimeters, otherwise, shock waves or surgical intervention will be ordered.
People who have had a kidney stone before are more at risk to have them again. In addition to drinking plenty of water, pure lemon juice and citrus fruits can help lower your risk of formation.