Author of the novels Farrang and Farrang, the Sequel Medical Consultant to Bangkok Pattaya Hospital Relax, I am not advocating the use of ‘bongs’ and funny tomato plants. I am referring to the increase in kidney stones experienced at this time of year.
With the annual dreadful Songkran just around the corner, one’s attention turns to avoiding getting doused, but it is the water we drink, not the water splashed, that is the greater problem. And it isn’t the quality of the water we drink, it is the volume, or lack of it.
As we go through the hottest spell in the Thai calendar, the incidence of kidney stones rises. Why? Quite simply, dehydration.
The lack of water concentrates all the chemicals in the urine and some of them form kidney stones. Did you ever ‘grow’ sugar crystals at school? You increase the concentration and eventually a sugar crystal will form. Your kidney stones are very similar.
The stones in the kidney begin as small concretions, not much bigger than a grain of sand. If there is enough water fowing through the kidney, the early stone is washed away down the ureter (the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder) and is passed within the urine. The problem occurs when the stone gets a little larger and jams in the ureter.
How do you know if you have a stone stuck in the ureter? Quite easily. You begin to experience one of the most painful situations known to mankind (and yes, women can get stones too, though not as prevalent as men). Ureteric colic will bring grown men to their knees. Believe me. The pain can be referred to the penis, and some people report the feeling as if they cannot fully empty the bladder.
You may also begin to pass bloodstained urine.
Remember the frst step to prevent the formation of any type of stone is to drink plenty of liquids water is best. Not water brewed with hops and stored in colored glass bottles! The reason for this is that beer is a diuretic, which makes you pass more water. Just watch the beer drinkers in the pub as they make the hourly pilgrimage to the loo. When you pass all this water, you dehydrate the system even more. And make it even more likely that you will develop another kidney stone. You have been warned.
The easiest way to get that stone(s) out of the ureter is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL). In this procedure, the stones are bombarded with shock waves from the ‘lithotripter’ which breaks the stone into pieces small enough to pass out with urination.
To avoid all this – just drink more water.
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