HOLLAND, Mich. -- When we think of summer we often think of sunburns, pools and sandy feet. But according to experts, summer also means kidney stone season.
Dr. Adam Kadlec from Western Michigan Urological Associates at Holland Hospital says 10 to 15 percent of people will experience a kidney stone in their life, and about half of a million people will visit the doctor for stones each year. And, according to urologist Kadlec, those numbers increase during the warmer months.
"It's just the stuff you learn about in basic chemistry," Kadlec said.
Dr. Kadlec says kidney stones are formed when minerals like calcium, oxalate and uric acid crystallize in the urine and create a stone. According to Kadlec, stones like to form in the acidic environment of the urine. They typically form in the kidney but can migrate to anywhere in the urinary tract.
When those stones start to move, they hurt. Kadlec says his patients describe it as a mild ache in their back that can turn into a stabbing pain.
"It’s a real nuisance for those who’ve had them," he said. "People will come in holding their side.
"We definitely do see more stones in the summer," Kadlec said. Hot and muggy conditions cause us to sweat and leads to dehydration. "People aren’t as well hydrated. The urine becomes more concentrated. The minerals that can cause stones that form crystals are more closer together."
Lack of fluids isn't the only thing that causes summertime kidney stones. Levels of stone forming minerals tend to be higher in the winter, said Kadlec, stones begin to form, and as people start moving more in summer, the stones begin to move in the body, potentially reaching into the ureter and causing pain.
But Dr. Kadlec says there's no need to sweat just yet.
"We don’t want people to worry about stones and not enjoy their summer," he said. He urges patients to stay hydrated instead. "Water, water, water are the three biggest things to do."
Although excessive amounts of calcium can trigger kidney stones, Kadlec tells patients they still need a moderate amount of calcium for good health.
However, Kadlec tells FOX 17, if you are concerned about kidney stones, you should avoid excess meats, salt, and iced tea.