Can you prevent painful kidney stones?

BOSTON— The pain from kidney stones can be so excruciating that some women say it's worse than childbirth. About 1 in 10 men and 1 in 20 women will experience at least one kidney stone by age 70. And after you get one, you're more likely to get another. However, there are things you can do to prevent this painful problem.

Kidney stones develop from the excess minerals — for example, salt, calcium, and potassium — your kidneys remove from the bloodstream. Chemicals in urine usually prevent these minerals and other substances from sticking together, but in some cases they bind to one another, forming stones. Stones may be as small as a grain of salt or — in rare cases — as large as a golf ball.

Preventing Kidney Stones

To prevent kidney stones, the most important thing you can do is drink plenty of fluids, specifically water. This will help your kidneys form urine and flush away minerals and other substances before they have time to bind and form stones. To prevent a recurrence, you might have to drink as many as 12 8-ounce glasses of water per day. If you find it hard to keep track of your fluid intake, pay attention to your urine. If it is dark and strong-smelling, you might not be getting enough fluids. If you drink enough that your urine is pale and odor-free, your risk of kidney stones goes down.

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