HOUSTON – Katie Elkins was in the fifth grade when she was crying, vomiting in pain and her parents called an ambulance.
"If feels like somebody stabbed you and stabs you and stabs you," Elkins said. "It hurts really, really, really bad."
"It was horrible," her mother, Lanai Turnbough, said. "It was the worst feeling ever. It was devastating because you see your baby, she's crying hysterically, and there's nothing you can do for her."
While in the hospital at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH), doctors informed her she has several kidney stones.
Pediatric Urologist Dr. Paul Austin said the number of pediatric patients with kidney stones at TCH is already up 40% just this year.
“I think it’s fluid, hydration. I think it’s diet. Those are the two biggest culprits," Austin said. "I think kids are eating too much processed foods with high sodium and they don’t drink enough.”
The best advice for dealing with kidney stones is to try to avoid them in the first place. Dr. Austin said our warm climate and schools are adding to the problem.
“Restrictions of water bottles in the classroom, it may also be the amount of time (or lack thereof) that they have between classes to go to the water fountain," Austin said. "So, I think it’s a combination of multiple factors.”
Elkins has an appointment in two weeks at the TCH Kidney Stone Clinic, where doctors will determine the best way to treat the kidney stones she hasn’t passed and give diet instructions that might help her avoid them in the future.
Her mom said with as common as they’ve become, she wishes more clinics like this one could be available to help children.
Diet modification, such as increased water is usually the biggest treatment suggestion. There are also some people who need surgical intervention or shock waves to break the kidney stones so that they can pass.