Spotlight: Stones that give you pain

MUSCAT, JAN 7 – In the Sultanate and other Gulf countries, average life time prevalence of stone disease in men is more than 20 per cent, making it the highest in the world. The world average life time prevalence in men is 10 per cent. “This region has the highest rate of kidney stones due to a combination of various dietary and environmental factors such as higher consumption of animal protein, high salt intake, higher consumption of oxalate rich food,” says Dr Abdul Azeez, Senior Urologist with a leading private hospital.
Kidney stones are small hard stones that form in the kidney when the salts in the urine become solid but the troubles they cause to the patients are enormous and more number of people are falling prey to it.
Although most incidences happen in the age group between 20 and 60, it can also happen to anyone in any age brackets. One or more stones may be present at one time while some people keep getting kidney stones throughout their lives.
A study conducted by Dr Mohammed Marhoon, Head of Urology Department at the Sultan Qaboos Hospital, suggests that urinary stones are quite common in the country with an increasing number of new cases being reported every year.
As many as 255 confirmed cases of urinary stone cases were reported at the SQUH registry.
“The most common stones in Oman were as calcium oxalates 45 per cent; mixed calcium phosphates and calcium oxalates 22 per cent; uric acid 16 per cent and cystine 4 per cent. Overweight is an important risk factor associated with stone formation. The hereditary cystine stones are three times more common in Oman than what is reported which needs further genetic studies,” according to Dr Marhoon, who is also the President of Oman Urology Society.

cases are reported
At the Rustaq Hospital alone, as many as 30 cases are reported, according to a senior surgeon at the hospital.
These factors, according to various other specialists, get worsened with factors such as excessive excretion of uric acid in urine, lower calcium intake, lower urine volumes due to the hot and dry climate in the region and lower excretions of citrate in urine are also major reasons. But most importantly, reduced intake of water as many out there are used to, is a major contributor to various urological issues and formation of kidney stone is not away from this reason.
“Not just the intake of water, but diabetic patients who have lower urine pH can increase the risk for uric acid calculi and gaining weight too is a reason behind this disease of which severe pain is a byproduct,” says Dr Marhoon.
“Prevention is better and one should drink the right amount of fluids every day. Your goal should be 10-18 glasses a day, depending on your exposure to heat,” suggests Dr Abdul Azeez.
“Eating high calcium foods and high oxalate food like low fat cheese with a spinach salad or yogurt with berries. If you take a calcium supplement, calcium citrate is the preferred form,” he recommends.

reducing the risk
Also, researchers suggest that lemonade may be helpful in reducing the risk of calcium oxalate stone formation. Limit eating processed high salt containing foods while reducing eating large amounts of protein which may increase the risk of kidney stone formation.
One’s daily protein needs can usually be met with 2-3 servings a day, or 4 to 6 ounces. Eating more than this when you are at risk at kidney stones is unnecessary. Last but certainly not the least, prompt treatment of urinary tract infections can prevent stone formation, especially “Struvite” stones.