Most people know that when the weather heats up, drinking plenty of water can prevent dehydration. But you may not know that consuming lots of liquid in the heat of summer may also reduce your risk of developing kidney stones. Dr. Ivan Porter II, a Mayo Clinic nephrologist, says more patients go to the doctor with painful kidney stones in summer than during any other time of the year. He has tips to help you prevent getting kidney stones this season.

When the temperatures rise, so does your risk of developing kidney stones, especially if you’ve had one before.

“When thinking about what a kidney stone is, you have to think about what a kidney does, and the kidney filters out toxins, takes out things that shouldn’t be there. And the way its gets rid of it is by putting it into the urine,” says Dr. Porter.

He says if you get dehydrated, your urine can become concentrated to the point where stones form.

“There are things you can do to try to combat that.”

Dr. Porter has summer time tips to help you prevent kidney stones. First, drink plenty of fluid - eight to 10 glasses a day.

“The other thing you can do is try to avoid some of the foods that tend to show up around summertime,” he says.

Stay away from overly salty, processed foods and meats.

“That increased sodium will increase your risk of kidney stones,” says Dr. Porter.

And if you’ve ever had a kidney stone, you know how painful they can be.

Most people who pass an initial stone want to know their chances of future episodes, but this has not always been easy to predict. Now Mayo Clinic researchers are tracking the familiar characteristics of kidney stone formers in an online prediction tool that could help sufferers anticipate if they’ll experience future episodes. The study was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Using data obtained from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a team of researchers explored a sampling of chronic kidney stone formers from Olmsted County between 1984 and 2017. Common features of patients who had recurrent stone events included younger age, male sex, a higher body mass index, history of pregnancy, and a family history of stones. Researchers also noted that stone recurrence tended to increase after each subsequent event, and the size and location of stones also associated with the risk of future episodes.

By using these features to develop a Recurrence of Kidney Stone online prediction tool researchers were able to improve upon known criteria for future stone formation. By entering information such as gender, race and an individual’s kidney stone history, the tool can generate an estimate of recurrence. “Each of the risk factors we identified are entered into the model, which then calculates an estimate of the risk of having another kidney stone in the next five or 10 years,” explains John Lieske, M.D., one of the study researchers.

Updating the Recurrence of Kidney Stone model with data collected from the study has improved the tool’s ability to predict subsequent events. Since the risk of stone recurrence varies depending on individual factors, this information can be useful for patients or caregivers when deciding how aggressively they want to adopt measures to reduce risk for stone recurrence. The tool, which is available online or as an app, also can be used in research studies to identify those patients most likely to have more kidney stone attacks.

Data used in the Recurrence of Kidney Stone model were based on results from Olmsted County, Minnesota. These data will need to be validated in other parts of the country to establish whether the findings are translatable to other settings.

Having a baseline knowledge of risk factors for stone recurrence and the potential for future episodes can be an incentive for individuals to modify lifestyle behaviors. By knowing the likelihood of future kidney stone episodes, Dr. Lieske notes that this could help encourage a patient’s “enthusiasm for adopting dietary measures and/or starting drug regimens to prevent future attacks.”

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