If you need a good reason to stay hydrated this summer, the AUA Foundation has one: being properly hydrated can help you avoid getting a kidney stone. To avoid the pain of kidney stones, which occur when certain substances become concentrated in the urine and form crystals, it is important to drink plenty of fluids.
While it is important to stay hydrated year-round, dehydration is more likely to occur in the summer months or in warmer climates. In fact, some of the southern parts of the United States make up what is known as the “Stone Belt” because of an increased prevalence of kidney stones there. As the temperature rises, so does your risk for a stone.
Liquids are your kidneys’ best defense. Undoubtedly, water is the best. However, recent research indicates that other beverages could also be beneficial – especially if you’ve already experienced a kidney stone.
Lemonade: This popular summer beverage is a natural source of a leading stone-preventing substance, citrate. In 2006, researchers at the American Urological Association Annual Scientific Meeting presented data showing that patients on lemonade therapy had a lower burden of kidney stones and those that did form stones formed them more slowly than they did prior to therapy. Lemonade was an attractive alternative to patients taking potassium citrate to prevent stone recurrence.
But lemonade may not be the only common beverage that can help fight stones.
Diet Soda: If you’re a soda drinker, you might want to switch to diet. A new study form the University of California, San Francisco, presented during the 2009 American Urological Association Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago, suggests that the citrate and malate levels in commonly consumed diet sodas may stem the development of calcium stones in much the same way as lemonade.
“This study by no means suggests that patients with recurrent kidney stones should trade in their water bottles for soda cans,” said Anthony Y. Smith, MD, an AUA spokesman. “However, this study suggests instead that patients with stone disease who do not drink soda may benefit from moderate consumption.”
In addition to staying hydrated this summer, patients prone to kidney stones should decrease their salt intake. Eat out less and cook at home more. It’s easier to know your salt intake when you prepare the food yourself.
“Kidney stones are extremely painful and it is important for patients to understand that there are some steps they can take to help prevent them,” said AUA Foundation Executive Director Sandra Vassos, MPA. “Simple lifestyle changes can really make a difference.”
For more information about kidney stones, visit the AUA Foundation at www.UrologyHealth.org.
Please contact Lacey Dean at 410-689-4054 to schedule an interview with the following experts:
Anthony Smith, MD, professor of urology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Marshall Stoller, MD, professor of urology, University of California, San Francisco
About the AUA Foundation: Originally established in 1987, the Foundation is the premier provider and resource for the most current, comprehensive and reliable urologic health information. We advocate and educate to empower physicians and the public to progress toward the highest quality prevention, detection and treatment of urologic diseases. With the support and strength of more than 16,000 physician members of the American Urological Association, the AUA Foundation strives to make certain that those who suffer from urologic conditions can enjoy the benefit of the highest level of care possible.
Lacey Dean, AUA