SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Many people who have suffered from kidney stones describe the pain as excruciating. Some women say it's worse than childbirth.
Leigha DeBell describes what it's like when she experiences a kidney stone.
"It's bad enough that when I get 'em my first instinct is to call 911."
"I can't function. I can't go to the bathroom. I can't stand up straight I can't breathe right. My blood pressure last time was 146 over 149. You know, it's just to the point where I sweat, I vomit. It's just pretty debilitating."
What exactly is a kidney stone? Most are made of calcium. They're formed in the kidneys from microscopic crystals of minerals common in the foods we eat. Stones are brought on by not drinking enough water and consuming increased amounts of foods rich in calcium, sodium and uric acid.
The severe pain from a kidney stone comes from when the stone leaves the kidney and tries to travel down to the bladder. This sets off a series of muscle spasms.
The symptoms of a kidney stone can be so intense that most people seek emergency treatment. If you wind up in an emergency room with a kidney stone, you will be treated for pain and most likely you'll get an x-ray or a cat scan to confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment for kidney stones is drugs for the pain and nausea and a prescription medicine called Flomax that relaxes the canal from the kidney to the bladder so the stone will pass.
They gave me the pain medication and I laid there for probably another 45 minutes to an hour and I felt it move to my bladder and asked if I could go to the bathroom. They said if you feel like you can try, that's fine. And I ended up passing it there at the hospital.
"The nurse that took me to the bathroom said, 'oh my gosh, that is a monster,'" says DeBell.
The best prevention is proper hydration -- at least two liters of water per day. Also, eat a well-balanced diet avoiding excessive amounts of fats, proteins and sodium. And watch your intake of coffee, teas and sodas. Lastly, exercise can reduce your risk of kidney stones by as much as 30%.
Kidney stones occur more often in the summer because of sweating and the increased risk of dehydration.