It is age-old wisdom that drinking plenty of water is good for the body.
However, it is commonplace for busy people to forget their glass of water or to drink less than enough fluids a day, paving the way for various health issues.
Among the major problems that could arise from insufficient water intake is formation of stones in the urinary tract.
Patients will have pain when they urinate, and experience periods of intense pain in the back or side of the abdomen, both of which severely affect everyday life.
Though it is curable, early diagnosis and prevention are definitely preferred to spare one from the persistent trouble and discomfort caused by the stones.
Urinary tract stones, a common illness noted in the urinary system, is a collective term that includes kidney stones, ureteral stones and bladder stones, named according to the exact location of the blockage.
Stones are lumps often formed by a combination of calcium and oxalate.
Men would have three times higher risk than women of developing stones.
Any persons aged 40 or above, whose families run the illness, drink little water, or consume high amount of oxalate-rich food such as nuts, berries and soybeans would have higher chances for developing the illness.
Some patients may show no symptoms at early stage; however, when the stones block the ureter or get into the bladder, people might see blood in the urine and suffer intense pain like muscle cramp in their back and possibly extending to the groin.
People who have the above-mentioned symptoms should consult a doctor, who would then advise on an appropriate imaging test, namely X-ray, intravenous urogram (IVU)/intravenous pyelogram (IVP), computerized tomography (CT) scan or ultrasound scan.
CT scans are now often employed as they are considered more accurate.
If patients have blocked ureters and hydronephrosis, an immediate treatment such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), ureteroscopic lithotripsy (URSL) or percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) is required to remove the stones.
Separately, since the formation of stones involves calcium, some people suggest that cutting the intake of dairy products could prevent the illness.
It is certainly a myth, as normal daily intake of the mineral would not contribute to the formation of stones.
To prevent the formation or recurrence of urinary tract stones, people should drink about two liters of water or lemon water each day to keep the urine from being too concentrated, or follow doctor’s prescription to adjust the acidity or basicity of the urine.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 20.
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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