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Kidney Stones Are in Season

August 14, 1996|KATHLEEN DOHENY

Call these the dog days of summer if you must.

But urologists have a catchier name: stone season.

The incidence of kidney stones peaks in August and September, according to reports in the medical literature and observations by urologists.

The most likely candidates for summer "stone events," as urologists call these sometimes-more-painful-than-childbirth episodes, are men in their 30s to 50s, especially if they guzzle iced tea and eat lots of ice cream.

Here's why: About 80% of kidney stones are composed of calcium oxalate. So combine the calcium from the dairy products and substances called oxalates (found in tea, chocolate, peanut butter and other foods and produced by the body) and you might be asking for trouble--particularly if you've already had a stone, since recurrence rates are high.

Prevention is the key to reducing the chance of kidney stones, which afflict half a million people a year in the United States. Ask your doctor about which foods to avoid since treatment is not the same for everyone. Drink plenty of water. Get medical help right away if you notice fever, urinary pain, burning and / or bleeding. Treatment is now simpler.

* Sources: Dr. Mark Kelly, urologist and director of the Kidney Stone Treatment Center at St. John's Hospital and Health Center, Santa Monica; American Urological Assn.; National Kidney Foundation of Southern California.

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