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Are Antibiotics to Blame for Kidney Stones in Kids?

The number of teenagers with kidney stones has doubled over the past 20 years, leading researchers to suspect overuse of antibiotics as one of the causes of this painful condition. The top suspects include fluoroquinolones (Cipro falls in this category), sulfa and penicillin, Ivanhoe reports — something that’s important to pin down, since kidney stones can last a lifetime when kids get them at an early age. Meanwhile, specialists are using laser surgery and stents to help ease the condition in young people who have kidney stones.

Kidney stones are lumps of hard mass that develop when crystals detach from urine inside the urinary tract. The stones can be as small as a grain of sand, but they also can grow to the size of a pearl or, in extreme cases, as big as a golf ball. They can cause excruciating pain when your bladder tries to pass them. Another symptom of a kidney stone is a sharp pain on your side and back, right below your ribs.

Since statistics from the National Kidney Foundation reveal that half a million people a year end up in emergency rooms because of kidney stones, it’s important to know what you can do, now, to prevent getting them in the first place. Understanding how your kidneys function, and what they need to continue functioning properly is a first step.

To begin with, waste products removed by your kidneys include urea and uric acid, which are produced by the breakdown of proteins and nucleic acids. We know that excessive protein intake, as well as too much fructose, can increase uric acid within minutes of ingestion, so it stands to reason that restricting the amount of protein you consume, and especially fructose, would be a primary strategy for preventing kidney stones from forming.

Since most Americans consume three to five times more protein than they need, and two to four times more fructose, simply reducing your intake of both can be fairly easy. My book, “Fat for Fuel” explains how you can do this by implementing a ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting. Analgesic drugs like aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen are also known to damage your kidneys, so cutting back or eliminating these drugs in your life can help, too.

And, whether scientists narrow down exactly which antibiotics contribute to kidney stones or not, it’s always a good thing to restrict your use of any type of antibiotics. If for no other reason, the fact that we are quickly running out of antibiotics available to treat serious infections should be cause to think twice before you ask for an antibiotic or accept one without question, should your doctor prescribe it without your asking for it.

It helps to remember that antibiotics cannot treat viral conditions like colds and flu. Sore throats fall in that category, too, as well as most ear infections — something many children are treated for regularly. The bottom line is, many illnesses simply don’t respond to antibiotics, so it’s important to always question whether they’re really necessary, and then take them only when there is no other option for your condition.

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