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Why are there more kidney stones?
Kidney stones can become really uncomfortable for those affected over time and can even cause colic and other complaints. In recent decades, more and more people have suffered from such kidney stones. Researchers have now found that the use of oral antibiotics may be to blame for this problem.
Scientists at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found in their current study that the prevalence of kidney stones in the United States has increased by an impressive 70 percent since the 1970s. A strong increase can also be seen in Germany. Doctors suspect that the use of oral antibiotics could be part of this problem. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "American Society of Nephrology".
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones form in the human body from the substances dissolved in the urine. The kidneys are supposed to cleanse our bodies of harmful substances. That is why they filter harmful and toxic substances out of our blood and then release them through the urine. However, it can happen that crystals form from some of the substances, which are then deposited as so-called stones in the urinary tract. Depending on the location where these stones are deposited, they are called kidney stones, ureter stones or bladder stones. The size of these structures can vary widely, ranging from just a few millimeters to several centimeters.
13.8 million medical records were analyzed
The medical records of 13.8 million patients were analyzed for the current investigation. A total of 25,981 kidney stones were diagnosed in the study. The doctors also examined the use of antibiotics in the persons affected over the period of the last three to twelve months before the diagnosis of kidney stones. In Germany alone, three times as many people develop kidney stones compared to the diagnoses of kidney stones ten years ago. It is believed that approximately five out of a hundred people suffer from kidney stones.
What drugs were used?
After checking various factors such as urinary tract infections, medications, diseases like gout and diabetes and other variables, the researchers found that exposure to one of five classes of antibiotics significantly increased the risk of kidney stones. The drugs used by patients ranged from broad-spectrum penicillins, which increased the risk by 27 percent, to so-called sulfa drugs, which were associated with more than twice the risk, the experts say. Agents such as cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and nitrofurantoin were also associated with an increased risk. The risks for children under the age of 18 were also significantly higher than for adults.
Why do oral antibiotics increase the risk of kidney stones?
The underlying mechanism is still unclear, but the most likely explanation is a complex interaction of the medication with the microbiome in the urine or intestine, according to study author Dr. Gregory E. from Tasian Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
More research is needed
There is a so-called risk-benefit relationship, so it must be ensured that only antibiotics are prescribed that do not lead to an increase in the negative health effects, adds the expert. Further research is now needed to better understand the problem. (as)