Why women are at a higher risk for kidney stones

Why women are at a higher risk for kidney stones

An increasing number of people are seeking emergency treatment for kidney stones, and women are leading the way, according to a new study. And the trend may be linked to obesity, researchers say.

Study teams at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit tracked the number of people seeking treatment for kidney stones over a four-year period. The findings are published in the Journal of Urology.

“Women are becoming more and more obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for developing a kidney stone. And one fascinating thing about women versus men is obese women are more likely to develop a stone than an obese man,” said study leader, Dr. Khurshid R. Ghani in a news release.

Analyzing national data, study leaders tracked emergency room visits from 2006 – 2009 and discovered more than 3.6 million visits for upper urinary tract stones during that time.

Twelve percent of those who got emergency care were hospitalized. Women made up for a majority of those visits—and it was costly. Charges for emergency department visits rose from $3.8 billion in 2006, to $5 billion in 2009.

A kidney stone is a collection of mineral salts and protein that form a solid crystalline mass and can affect up to 10 percent of all Americans at some time in their lives, according to the American Urological Association.

Dr. Christopher Lodowsky, a urologist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., explains that kidney stones are more common during hot weather, but can occur at any time of the year. Staying well hydrated can go a long way to prevent stones from forming.

“When it gets hotter outside, people become more dehydrated, and mild dehydration increases your risk for kidney stones, explains Dr. Lodowsky. “Many people don’t drink enough fluids to compensate for the warmer temperatures or they drink fluids that work against the body’s need for fluids—such as alcohol, colas and coffee.”

The best approach, Dr. Lodowsky says, is to monitor your fluid intake and stay well hydrated. Producing at least 2 liters of urine a day is the single most important factor to reduce the risk of stone occurrence. In addition, limiting intake of caffeinated beverages helps to maintain hydration because caffeine increases fluid loss.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.