Each year in the United States, three million people seek relief for painful kidney stones with their doctors or urologists, and a surprising number of these visits take place during the summer months. The reason for the uptick in kidney stone treatments during the summer is akin to hibernation — the stones tend to form during the winter and then go on the march during spring and summer.
At our Houston urology practice, Dr. Robert J. Cornell understands the nuances behind kidney stones and knows the best ways to treat them — whatever time of year. But since summer is here, we wanted to explain why the incidence of kidney stones rises.
As we mentioned, a large part of the increase in kidney stones treatments during the summer is due to stones that formed over the winter and only begin to attempt their painful passage through your urinary tract.
The reason this occurs is that many people tend to be less active during the colder, grayer days of winter, and they also have more calcium in their urine. This condition, which is known as hypercalciuria, is a precursor to the formation of kidney stones.
When spring and summer roll around, and you become more active, any stones that may have developed can begin to move within your kidneys and make an attempt to exit through your ureter. And it’s this attempt at exiting that causes the mild-to-severe pain that are the hallmarks of kidney stones.
Also lending to more summertime kidney stone treatments is the fact that we tend to hydrate less during the winter. Without as much activity, most people feel less inclined to drink water. And the temperatures, while still warm in Houston, aren’t exactly the searing temps of summer that call for a cold glass of water.
As a result, this lack of proper hydration during the winter compounds the problem. As calcium and uric acid (the other culprit behind kidney stones) build up in your kidneys, and they aren’t being flushed properly, stones can develop.
An overall rise
Another reason for the increase in kidney stone treatments during the summer has more to do with an overall rise in the incidence of kidney stones. In one study, the incidence of kidney stones rose by 16% over the 15-year study period. This jump, medical researchers speculate, may have to do with the rise of obesity and diabetes in the United States — two conditions that are linked to kidney stones.
No matter how your kidney stones may have developed, the good news is that we can help you get the treatment (and relief) you need. If you’re feeling pain, please give us a call at (281) 607-5300 or use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.