What you should know to avoid kidney stones

Stones, or urinary tract calculi, don’t usually cause symptoms as long as they stay in the kidney. But if they migrate down into the ureter, the tiny tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder, trouble begins. As the stones try to wiggle their way down the narrow passageway, spasms of pain result; and the bigger the stone the worse.

Just because we are in the midst of a viral pandemic, doesn’t make other conditions less important. Especially if you have that condition.

Most people don’t worry much about kidney stones -until you have one. And once you have one, and get over it, you tend to forget about it. At least until the next time, which happens to at least 30% of those affected.

Big rocks on a grassy slope
Stones, but not renal calculi
What are kidney stones?

Stones, or urinary tract calculi, don’t usually cause symptoms as long as they stay in the kidney. But if they migrate down into the ureter, the tiny tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder, trouble begins. As the stones try to wiggle their way down the narrow passageway, spasms of pain result; and the bigger the stone the worse.

kidneys and urinary system graphic
The urinary tract- kidney, ureters and bladder

Fortunately, most stones less than 10 mm, or about 3/8 of an inch, eventually pass into the bladder and out the body through the urethra. Some get stuck and must be removed. Occasionally, large stones can block the kidney, leading to infection. But , once you have had a stone, you want to prevent another.

What causes kidney stones?

We know what substances cause most stones- chemicals that normally pass through the urine but  sometimes build up, harden and form into tiny rock -like structures called calculi. 95% of stones contain calcium, while the other 5% are made of uric acid a few other minerals.

5 tips to keep away kidney stones-watercresswords.com
Steps to stopping kidney stones

These steps can lessen the risk of new stones in people who have already had one. We don’t know if it applies to people who have never had any stones. Check with your doctor to see if any of these are right for you.

Drink enough water to produce 2-2.5 quarts/liters of urine every day.

A high fluid, preferably water, intake can prevent build up of these stone causing chemicals. At least 2 quarts/liters daily is recommended, more if one does heavy physical activity , sports, or lives in a hot climate.

Limit the amount of sodium, salt, in the diet.

Since the majority of stones contain calcium, it might make sense to limit calcium. But the kidneys spend more time filtering sodium; so with less sodium, more calcium can  be flushed away and so it’s not making stones.  Here are 5 tips to reduce salt intake from WebMD.

Limit intake of oxalate rich foods.

Oxalate, combined with calcium, is another chemical found in kidney stones. It comes from eating rhubarb, spinach, tea, nuts and cocoa.

Although watercress and other greens contain oxalate, it’s probably not necessary to avoid them entirely; they also are a good source of calcium which attaches to the oxalate, removing both from the body. Moderate amounts with adequate fluid intake should be safe, unless your doctor tells your otherwise.

Limit intake of certain animal proteins.

High purine foods can cause the less common uric acid stones. To prevent uric acid stones, cut down on high-purine foods such as red meat, organ meats, beer/alcoholic beverages, meat-based gravies, sardines, anchovies and shellfish.

a basket filled with fruits and vegetables
a LIGHTSTOCK.COM image, an affiliate link for stock photos and other media
Eat a whole foods, plant based diet.

  • Follow a healthy diet plan that has mostly vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, especially those that have high fructose corn syrup.
  • Limit alcohol because it can increase uric acid levels in the blood and avoid short term diets for the same reason.
  • Drink beverages with lime and lemon juice.

This information is current as of the publication date; it is general medical information that helps a doctor and patient make decisions about what is right for her. Medical recommendations and practice changes as we learn new things. If you deal with any of these issues , please discuss with your doctor before taking any action.

Get expert advice about kidney stones at these links.

Eating tips from the National Kidney Foundation

Watch a brief video about kidney stones from MedlinePlus  here.

Print a PDF handout at this link-  Preventing Kidney Stones -from the American Academy of Family Physicians

Doe and Faun White-tailed deer drinking at a farm pond in Stanly Co., NC on Aug. 19, 2000.
Doe and Faun White-tailed deer drinking at a farm pond in Stanly Co., NC on Aug. 19, 2000. copyright Daniel E. Wray

I don’t know if deer get kidney stones, but if so, they are doing the right thing. I like this photo which is also from the LIGHTSTOCK.COM collection.

exploring the HEART of health

Thank you for joining me to explore the HEART of health. I hope you’ve learned something new about kidney stones; I hope you never have one! Please contact me about topics you want to read about.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn where I also explore the HEART of health.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Using double duty drugs-COVID-19, migraine, and shingles

In 2020 SARS-CoV-2 caused a worldwide pandemic of infection. To treat this novel, or new, virus, infectious disease experts turned to old drugs while developing new unique drugs to treat it.

In this post I’m reviewing some drugs that treat multiple conditions. This post was updated August 5, 2020.

Many drugs originally developed to prevent or treat one condition can be “repurposed” to treat another.

This information is current as of the publication date; it is general medical information that helps a doctor and patient make decisions about what is right for her. Medical recommendations and practice changes as we learn new things. If you deal with any of these issues , please discuss with your doctor before taking any action.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO), federal, state and local public health partners, and clinicians in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. CDC is closely monitoring the situation and working 24/7 to provide updates.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO), federal, state and local public health partners, and clinicians in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. CDC is closely monitoring the situation and working 24/7 to provide updates credit James Gathany, public domain

Treatment options for COVID-19

In 2020 SARS-CoV-2 caused a worldwide pandemic of infection. To treat this novel, or new, virus, infectious disease experts turned to old drugs while developing new unique drugs to treat it.

Chloroquine, an old malaria drug and its cousin hydroxychloroquine, used for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus received EUA, Emergency Use Authorization, from the FDA for use against COVID-19. At first it looked promising; President Trump even took it for prevention. But analysis of treatment results did not show fewer deaths but did find adverse heart effects so the EUA was withdrawn. However clinical trials using the drug can be continued.

In early July a hospital in Michigan released statistics showing more patients treated with hydroxychloroquine lived that those who weren’t, surprising other medical centers who did not find the same results in their patients.

As of August 2, 2020, the White House coronavirus task force member charged with coordinating the U.S. testing effort said that the nation needs to “move on” from the debate over hydroxychloroquine.  

Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health and human services, said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that “from a public health standpoint, at first, hydroxychloroquine looked very promising” but at “this point in time, there’s been five randomized control, placebo-controlled trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine.” 

“So, at this point in time, we don’t recommend that (hydroxychloroquine) as a treatment. There’s no evidence to show that it is,”

Adm. Brett Giroir

Another old drug however did reduce deaths in severely ill COVID-19 patients. Dexamethasone, a steroid, reduced mortality in patients who needed oxygen, either alone or by a ventilator and is now recommended for use in all such patients. Steroids treat a variety of conditions including severe asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, autoimmune diseases, and multiple other inflammatory conditions.

illustration showing the coronavirus which causes COVID-19

 

Avoiding surgery for ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. As the fertilized egg begins developing into an embryo, it will eventually outgrow size of the Fallopian tube, and rupture, causing hemorrhage (bleeding) in the pregnant woman.

Ruptured ectopic pregnancies cause about 2.7% of pregnancy-related deaths. Ectopic pregnancy is a true medical emergency and usually requires surgery to prevent death. But another old medicine can in some cases spare a woman from losing her tube to either rupture or surgery.

Methotrexate is an old drug used to treat several forms of cancer as well as several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s Disease. Now, some patients can avoid surgery for an ectopic pregnancy by receiving one or two doses of methotrexate by the IM (intra-muscle) injection route.

The treatment is not 100% effective; patients must follow their doctor’s instructions for follow up carefully, as surgery may still be necessary.

https://medlineplus.gov/images/femalereproductivesystem.png

Prevention of migraine pain and disability

Migraine, although not exclusive to women,occurs much more frequently in them than men. For infrequent headaches,non opiate pain relievers are effective and recommended. But for severe, frequent, or persistent symptoms prevention is recommended to improve quality of life.

Botox, onabotulinumtoxin A, has been FDA approved for treating chronic migraine, meaning patients with frequent headaches and other migraine symptoms for at least 3 months.

Yes the same drug used to treat wrinkles,Botox, can prevent migraine.

Manufactured by Allergan, a vial containing 200 units costs $1452, per goodrx.com. For migraine, the drug is injected in the upper facial muscles by a physician specifically trained in its use.

 

Preventing cancers with the HPV vaccine

Infection with the HPV, human papillomavirus, causes genital warts, an uncomfortable condition but not life threatening. However it can also cause changes in the cervix called CIN which can lead to cervical cancer.

According to a review of clinical trials by Cochran, vaccination against this virus effectively prevents infection and thus fewer cases of CIN. Since a significant percentage of CIN progresses to cancer, we can expect fewer women will develop invasive cervical cancer, the 4th most common cancer in women worldwide.

The vaccine, Gardasail 9, originally approved for use in females ages 9 to 26 years,received FDA approval for use up to ages 17 to 45 years in both males and females.

The vaccine is intended to prevent cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, and cervix.

The American Cancer Society, ACS, recommends routine vaccination from ages 9-12 years, to prevent the greatest number of cancers, since the vaccine is less effective at older ages. The ACS encourages physicians to offer “catch-up” vaccination to people through age 26 years. For persons older than 26 years, the vaccine offers much less cancer prevention so the society does not recommend it.

HPV-16 E5 Oncoprotein
Description:
A koilocyte is a squamous epithelial cell that has undergone structural changes as a result of infection by human papillomavirus (HPV). This image of a koilocyte shows human ectocervical cells (HEC) expressing HPV-16 E5 oncoprotein, and immortalized with HPV-16 E6 and E7 oncoproteins. Formation of koilocytes requires cooperation between HPV E5 and E6 oncoproteins. The cell culture is stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E).

This image was originally submitted as part of the 2016 NCI Cancer Close Up project.

This image is part of the NCI Cancer Close Up 2016 collection.


Source:
National Cancer Institute \ Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Creator:
Ewa Krawczyk
Date Created:
2006
Date Added:
April 11, 2016
Reuse Restrictions:
None – This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source and, where possible, the creator listed above.

Stopping shingles-and strokes- with the zoster vaccine

Zoster is a reactivation of the varicella/zoster virus that causes chickenpox. It causes a painful rash known as shingles;the pain may continue after the rash is gone. It can happen at any age, but symptoms tend to be worst in older persons.

The new zoster (shingles) vaccine, Shingrix, prevents the painful rash much more effectively than the original vaccine Zostavax. It ranges in effectiveness from 91% to 97% at preventing shingles, depending on age. The first vaccine was 51% effective.

However, the original shingles vaccine may not prevent shingles as well, but it may prevent strokes due to inhibiting inflammation causes by the shingles virus.

Researchers at the CDC reviewed the Medicare health records of more than 1 million people age 66 or older who received Zostavax between 2008 and 2014, and 1 million people of the same age who had not received the vaccination. Researchers took into account age, gender, race, medications and existing health conditions.

Based on these records, the Zostavax reduced stroke risk by 18% for the most common type of stroke. During the years they reviewed, the Shingrix was not in use, so they couldn’t say if it would also show a protective effect.

Signs of Stroke
Signs of Stroke

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and causes more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. Every minute counts, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. The best way to help someone having a stroke is to recognize the symptoms and call 9-1-1. www.stroke.nih.gov/index.htm
before you leave, here’s another post you might enjoy

exploring the HEART of health

Thanks for joining me to review some old drugs with new tricks.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn where I also explore the HEART of health.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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