Summer Forecast: Hot, Dry, and a Chance of Kidney Stones

August 16, 2023

By Noah May, M.D.

Ah, summertime. Peak season for swimming pools, baseball, parched throats … and kidney stones.

It’s true. At the risk of throwing a wet blanket over your sun-loving plans, kidney stones are more likely to develop in the summer, due to a cascade of events that start months earlier.

Once you understand the contributing factors, however, you can easily take steps to prevent stones from forming.

Concentrating on Kidney Stones: It’s All About Ratio

Your kidneys’ job is straightforward, but crucial: To remove the waste from your blood through urine.

If you drink a lot of liquids, the waste flushes away easily. But if your liquid flow is low for the amount of waste the kidneys screen out, the urine becomes concentrated, and those minerals, salts, and other waste bind together to form crystals, or “stones.”

Often, stones are so wee they aren’t detectable. But if they reach a certain size and move from the kidneys into the ureter (the tube connecting to the bladder), they can block urine and cause an infection.

And ouch, then you know.

OK, But Why Are They More Likely In The Summer?

One in 10 people experience kidney stones sometime their life, and for many that time is summer. The factors behind the timing, however, might begin to unfold in the winter.

In colder months, the amount of calcium in your urine is higher, research shows, and 80% of kidney stones are predominantly calcium-based. Further, we tend to be less active in the winter, and physical activity helps prevent calcium and other urinary materials from collecting in the kidneys.

Then summer arrives and dehydration kicks in, giving that excess calcium better odds of binding and forming into stones.

Treating Stones: Our Options Are Crystal Clear

If a kidney stone is small (less than one centimeter), it may pass through the body on its own, especially with the help of fluids and certain medications, such as Flomax and ibuprofen. (A doctor can provide guidance.)

If the stones cause a blockage or infection, you’ll likely experience acute pain in the back, sides, and groin. There may be blood in your urine. If you have these symptoms, you should see a urologist.

MidLantic Urology offers several care options for stone removal, depending on the size, type, and location, from breaking them down with a laser to surgery. Among our reliable and low-invasive treatments:

  • Ureteroscopy: A slim telescopic instrument is gently inserted into the bladder and ureter duct and then extracts the stones after breaking them down with a laser.
  • Shockwave lithotripsy: The use of high-energy soundwaves, delivered on the outside of the skin, to break up stones so they can pass in urine.
  • Percutaneous stone removal: For larger stones, a small incision is made in the back, through which a narrow scope carrying surgical tools is inserted into the kidney to break down and remove the stones.

What You Can Do to Stop Stones

The best way to prevent stones from forming is drinking lots of fluids – 11 to 16 cups a day. When sweating, drink more.

If you’re stone-prone, we suggest these additional steps:

Dash the salt. Sodium increases the amount of calcium in urine, so avoid high-sodium processed foods, fast foods, and salty snacks.

Trim animal portions. Too much red meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood can cause stone-friendly uric acid levels to climb.

Eat calcium and oxalates together. Some foods, including nuts, chocolate, and dark green leafy vegetables, carry high levels of oxalates, which can bind with calcium while in the kidneys. If you eat calcium and oxalates together, they are more likely to bind before entering the kidneys, and not form stones.

These easy precautions can ensure you enjoy crystal-clear urinary health year-round. Keep them in mind, even when winter arrives.

To learn more about kidneys stones, symptoms, and treatments, visit our page dedicated to the condition and treatments.

Schedule an appointment with a MidLantic Urology Physician near you today!

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