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Dr Caroline West: GP

Dr Caroline West combines her role in a busy inner-city general medical practice with presenting, producing and writing for a number of Australian television shows and magazines. ASK ME A QUESTION

What causes kidney stones?

Thursday, November 7, 2002
Many doctors believe that drinking about eight glasses of water a day, which keeps your urine volume up above two litres a day, helps prevent kidney stones.

Question:
I have just recovered from a very painful bout of kidney stones. The pain was even worse than childbirth. I have trying to work out what caused them and what I can do to never get them back again. I've been told that drinking mineral water often causes kidney stones. Is this true?

Answer:
Mineral water usually only contains trace amounts of minerals, so it is not generally thought to cause kidney stones. What is more likely to be a trigger for kidney stones is dehydration from not drinking enough water. Kidney stones are extremely common, and about a million Australians are currently suffering from them. It's a particularly common here because of our hot, dry climate. Many doctors believe that drinking about eight glasses of water a day, which keeps your urine volume up above two litres a day, helps prevent kidney stones. In fact there is scientific evidence to suggest that if you have had one kidney stone, you can halve your risk of getting a second one by drinking enough water to keep your urine volume at or above two litres a day. As each person's situation will vary, it's important to see your doctor for advice on what's right for you. The Australian Kidney Foundation has excellent information on kidney stones: www.kidney.org.au


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