It starts out as discomfort, easily mistaken for gas. When a kidney stone starts passing women often compare it to childbirth. Men simply call it agony.
“Woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain, didn’t go away so at the time we went to the ER,” says Chris Glenz, kidney stone patient.
“It’s the passing of the stone from the kidney to the bladder that causes most people to have symptoms. You usually have severe enough pain that you call 9-1-1,” says Dr. James Borden, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Kidney stones find an ideal environment to grow when urine lacks substances that keep crystals from sticking together
“Stones form when there’s too much mineral in urine to stay in solution. If you have too much calcium or too much oxalate which are the most common stones compared to the volume of urine then they start getting saturation and they group together,” says Dr. Borden.
Glenz suffers from chronic kidney stones, meaning his body is constantly making them. It stems from a metabolic imbalance.
“There’s two different medicines they have me on, one of them is to increase the level of citrate and the other one is to help me dump calcium. So you’re just trying to figure out the right chemistry,” says Glenz.
For chronic sufferers, treatment becomes prevention. Meaning medication and diet changes, some as simple as adding water.
“If you get dehydrated a lot you’ll have a tendency to form stones. And in the south people tend to have more stones just because it’s so hot,” says Dr. Borden.
It’s been a 20-year battle for Glenz, trying to keep his life in balance.
“There’s no family history or anything like that, so I guess I was just the lucky one,” says Glenz.