Medical Minute: Kidney Stones

Many people who've had kidney stones say it's the worst pain they've ever experienced, but who's at risk and what causes them?

Urologist Culley Carson says these are the biggest kidney stones he's ever seen removed. It took major surgery to take them out.

"Most stones are probably this size, or even smaller."

In fact, about 80 percent of stones are less than a quarter inch wide and will usually pass on their own, but Sharon Presnell nearly passed out from the stone she passed.

Sharon shatters a common kidney stone myth that only men get them. While men have a slight edge, the numbers are almost even. Myth number two is that they're rare.

Culley Carson, M.D. Urologist, says, "Kidney stones are very common. In fact, one patient in 50 will have a kidney stone each year."

Another myth is that they cannot kill you.

"You absolutely can die from a kidney stone."

Still, death is extremely rare. Another myth is that calcium is the main culprit. It's not, but excessive oxalate is a factor. It's found in dark green leafy vegetables, iced tea and beer. Too much protein can also promote stones, while lemonade can actually prevent them.

"The best way to eliminate or avoid kidney stones is to drink large amounts of water."

Sharon follows that advice.

"Oh yes, I'm very fastidious about that. I don't need to have that experience again."

Since kidney stones run in her family, Sharon watches her diet.

For more information, contact:

Stephanie Crayton-Robinson
Media Relations Manager
UNC Healthcare
(919) 966-2860

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