Kidney expert warns people are 'in denial' about dehydration

Mr Bhaskar SomaniA leading surgeon is warning many people in the UK are “in denial” about the consequences of dehydration – resulting in thousands of new cases of kidney stones every year.

Mr Bhaskar Somani, a consultant urological surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, said a lack of awareness around regular daily fluid intake was responsible for an annual increase in renal stone admissions.

“The number of people admitted to hospital suffering severe pain and discomfort due to kidney stones is increasing by between 5% and 10% every year, yet people remain unaware and, in some cases, in denial about the significance of preventative measures,” he said.

“Over the past decade, the number of hospital admissions for renal stones in the UK rose by 63% to more than 80,000 and there is no sign of these numbers letting up.”

The condition, which affects around 10 to 20% of the male population and 3 to 5% of women between the ages of 20 and 60 years, develops when crystals of salt accumulate into stone-like lumps and are not flushed out of the body due to a lack of adequate hydration.

Although the body tries to pass stones out of the urinary system, they often lodge in the kidney tube and cause severe abdominal and groin pain which, in many cases, can only be corrected through surgery.

At Southampton General Hospital, where Mr Somani is the clinical lead for urological stone services, the number of patients admitted to hospital every month has almost doubled – a trend he said would continue without intervention.

“What we are seeing in Southampton is broadly reflective of the national picture and the only way to drive this down is to drive home the message that healthy lifestyle, diet and fluid intake is the best way to prevent the development and recurrence of stones,” he explained.

“With evidence that 50% of patients treated are likely to have a recurrence within ten years, largely due to complacency around hydration within a few years of having surgery, we know we face an uphill battle to change the national mindset, but we must make a start.”

Mr Somani said all adults should aim to drink between two to three litres of water a day, while former stone patients should maintain a daily intake upwards of three litres to avoid recurrence.

He has also called for the introduction of a screening programme for all high risk patients – those with diabetes, gout or inflammatory bowel disease – and regular monitoring of people who suffered their first incidence of stones under the age of 25.

Posted on Friday 31 May 2013