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Dr. Nicholas Franco, MD, Shares Insights on Kidney Stones: Causes, Prevention, and Treatments

Michigan, US, 12th June 2024, ZEX PR WIRE, Dr. Nicholas Franco, MD, a retired urologist who served in Montreal, New Orleans, and Southwest Florida, shares his extensive knowledge of kidney stones’ causes, prevention, and treatments. Dr. Franco’s insights aim to help individuals understand and manage this common health issue.

Kidney stones are produced in the kidneys, however stones can be found be found throughout the urinary tract including in the ureters and the bladder. Kidney stones are usually symptomatic and become symptomatic when a stone or stones is passed into the ureter or block the passage of urine into the ureter. The passage of a kidney stone usually starts with a sudden intense colicky pain in the side and can extent all the way to the lower abdomen and groin area. In men the pain is sometimes felt in their testicle . Also frequent urination , urinary urgency with excessive frequency of urination, bloody urine, and cloudy and foul smelling urine with or without fever can be experienced.

Kidney stones form when waste in the urine become highly concentrated, leading to the crystallization and formation of stones.  The stones can be calcium based (80%), Uric Acid based (5-10%), Struvite/infected stones (10%) and Cystine stones(1%). Dr. Franco explains that several factors contribute to this problem. One of them, he says, is dehydration. Dr. Nicholas Franco says dehydration, resulting from inadequate water intake, leads to concentrated urine, which increases the risk of stone formation. Dietary habits, he adds, also play a significant role, with high intake of salt, sugar, and fructose (found in table sugar and high fructose corn syrup) being common contributors. Dr. Franco adds that lifestyle factors such as both excessive and insufficient exercise, obesity, and weight loss surgery further elevate the risk. Additionally, Dr. Franco says that certain medical conditions and a family history of kidney stones can predispose individuals to this condition. Dr. Franco also notes that nutritional imbalances, including consuming too much animal protein and insufficient calcium, are contributing factors.

The good news, Dr. Nicholas Franco says, is that Kidney Stones are preventable. Preventing kidney stones, he states, involves making dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk. Dr. Franco emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated by drinking more than 12 glasses of water daily to keep urine less concentrated with waste products. To quote him, “Aim for urine that is light yellow to clear.” He adds that limiting sugar and salt intake is crucial, as is avoiding salty foods like chips, canned soups, and packaged meals. In his professional opinion, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps make the urine less acidic, reducing the likelihood of stone formation. While protein is necessary, Dr. Franco says, excessive animal protein can increase urine acidity, so a balanced diet is essential, and seeking guidance from a dietitian can be beneficial. He notes that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is also necessary, but avoiding high-protein or crash diets is more important. He advises that people at high risk of kidney stones should aim for calcium-rich foods. That’s because dietary calcium helps prevent stones by binding with oxalate in the gastrointestinal tract, thus reducing the absorption of oxalates . Adding citrate based foods such as lemonaid to one’s diet can reduce calcium  stone formation.Calcium oxalate stones are the most common form of calcium based stones and by far account for the majority of symptomatic kidney stones. 

When kidney stones occur, Dr. Nicholas Franco says, treatment depends on the size and type of the stone and the severity of symptoms. He notes that increasing water intake and using medications to manage pain. In an acute episode, an alpha blocker such as Tamsulosin (Flomax) and reduction of urine acidity(in the case of uric acid stones) can help pass the stone naturally for small stones. He also highlights Extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy(ESWL) as a way of treating kidney stones. ESWL he says, is a noninvasive non-surgical procedure that uses high-energy sound waves to break the stones into smaller fragments that can be passed in the urine. Ureteroscopy, another treatment method, he says, involves inserting an endoscope through the urethra into the ureter to retrieve or break up the stone. For large or complicated stones, Dr. Nicholas Franco says, a minimally invasive surgical procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy/nephrolithotripsy is performed to remove the stones directly from the kidney using an endoscope passed trough a tiny skin incision.

Dr. Franco advises individuals who have had kidney stones or are at increased risk to consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice. This includes seeing a doctor or registered dietitian to evaluate medical history and dietary habits and to recommend appropriate changes.

As Dr. Nicholas Franco, MD, enjoys his retirement, his legacy of excellence and commitment to advancing urological care continues to benefit the medical community and countless individuals affected by kidney stones. His insights provide a valuable resource for understanding and managing this common yet manageable condition.

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