Kidney stones are no fun. Just ask Jim Thacker of Bryant. He's battled kidney stones for 20 years, and has undergone a half dozen surgeries to remove them. He says if you have a stone you'll know it. He describes his pain as having four levels. The first two, he can manage, but the next two, he says, "Level three pain is usually stay home from work. Get on a heating pad. Level four pain is on the floor here in the doctor's office, begging them to knock me in the head."
Jim works in construction, and is outside frequently in the hot Arkansas summer. He admits he doesn't drink enough water and gets dehydrated.
"What I've found out is most of mine sort of manifest themselves in late winter or early spring, after that dehydration process had taken place and the stones form and then start moving around," he said.
According to Dr. Tim Langford, a urologist at Arkansas Urology, "Arkansas is in the what we call the Stone Belt, which is in the southeastern United States."
Dr. Langford says our southern diet is also to blame for our kidney stones, but a contributor is living in a hot dry climate, and not drinking enough water.
He offered this advice for preventing kidney stones : "The easiest way to know if you're drinking enough water is, your urine should be clear to very light yellow. Then you're drinking enough water. The other thing is limit the salt in your diet. We know that salt contributes toward kidney stone formation. So don't use a lot of added salt especially. And the third thing is animal protein, which is red meat. I'm not saying cut out red meat entirely, but limit your portions. And those are the three main things patients can do."
The good news here is if you do develop a kidney stone, Dr. Langford says it's rare that urologists need to do open surgery to remove kidney stones. It's mostly done by shockwave treatment or scopes.
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