I’m lucky. I’ve never experienced kidney stone pain. People say it can be excruciating. The stones can cause sudden intense pain in your side or back below your ribs. And the agony typically radiates into your lower abdomen and groin.
I’ve even heard a number of women say that passing a kidney stone was more painful than giving birth. And men commonly describe it as the worst pain they’ve ever felt.
Kidney stones form when mineral and salt deposits in your kidneys build up and bind together forming solid crystals. Small stones can sometimes form and pass without you noticing. But larger stones can cause intense pain.
Experts say kidney stones have mysteriously been on the rise over the last couple of decades. And we may now know one of the reasons why. A new study has revealed that common antibiotics could be sending our risk of stones skyrocketing.
Researchers crunched the data from over 13 million patients in the U.K. between 1994 and 2015. They narrowed their sample size down to 26,000 folks who were diagnosed with kidney stones and 260,000 control patients who were stone free.
Antibiotics could raise your risk for a kidney stone
Next, they factored in any issues that could potentially have played a part in kidney stones forming such as urinary tract infections, diabetes or gout.
And to everyone’s surprise, the researchers found five of the most commonly prescribed classes of antibiotics were associated with a significantly higher risk of developing a kidney stone.
- sulfas (such as Trisulfapyrimidine)
- cephalosporin (such as Keflex)
- fluroquinolones (such as Cipro, Levaquin, Floxin)
- broad-spectrum penicillins (such as penicillin and amoxicillin)
Although all of them were linked to a higher risk, sulfas (commonly used to treat urinary tract infections) were the worst of the lot. In the three to 12 months after taking a sulfa antibiotic folks had a 2.3 fold increase in their kidney stone risk.
The good news is that risk appeared to drop over time. But the bad news is it remained higher than normal for up to five years after having taken the antibiotic.
Now I’ve been warning you for years to avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics because of the threat of a superbug infection. But it looks like we now have another excellent reason to use these wonder drugs sparingly, and only when needed.
3 common sense habits to reduce kidney stone risk
Sometimes, of course, an antibiotic is necessary. And other factors can increase your kidney stone risk. Which is why it’s a good idea to adopt some common sense habits that can help prevent stones from forming
1. Drink more water:
Drinking plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated is by far the easiest and most effective way to prevent kidney stones. It’s easy to get busy and forget to drink enough during the day so you may want to try setting a timer as reminder to refill your glass until it becomes a habit. And remember other beverages such as tea count too.
2. Concentrate on calcium:
If you’ve always believed cutting back on calcium in your diet helps prevent kidney stones, you are not alone. It’s a common misconception. But the truth is a diet too low in calcium can increase your kidney stone risk. Calcium binds with oxalic acid which is associated with certain types of kidney stones.
So make sure to include plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet such as leafy greens, sardines and Greek yogurt. And don’t skip out on the vitamin D either, which helps your body process and use calcium efficiently.
3. Dodge diet pitfalls:
Chronic overeating, or binging and fasting, can cause your urine to become too concentrated or acidic leading to kidney stones. If you’re prone to stones, a high salt diet could raise your risk too. Cutting back on processed foods, which are often high in junk sodium, is a good idea.
If you’re lucky like me and have never experienced the pain of a kidney stone keeping antibiotic use to a minimum and adopting these three habits could keep it that way. And if you’ve suffered through stones before experts say you’re likely to develop another one so it’s also a good idea to take steps to reduce your risk today.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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