Just hearing the words ‘kidney stone’ is enough to make any sufferer wince in remembrance. It is some of the worst pain imaginable. And to top it off, the procedure to remove one is just as horrible. There’s good news in the battle to prevent that second stone. A new test can predict your risk factor for recurrent stones. Prepare the water bottles.

The test would give you and your doctor insight on whether preventative measures need to be taken. You know that water pitcher you have? Prepare to keep the refills coming. If you have had a kidney stone in the past, the new test involves 11 questions.

It can predict the risk factor of developing another kidney stone within 2, 5 or 10 years. Here’s hoping you hit a big negative on the test. Current risk factors include being younger, male, blood in the urine and a stone made of uric acid.

The questionnaire was developed from data of 2,200 adults in Olmsted County, MN. That’s one way to drill down data – everyone lives in the same spot. Participants had developed their first kidney stone between 1984 and 2003. By 2012, more than 700 study participants had another stone.

This new tool is being published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. It was put together by the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Andrew Rule was the lead author. “If we knew which patients were at high risk for another symptomatic kidney stone, then we could better advise patients on whether to follow stone prevention diets or take medications.”

Those with a lower risk factor may be able to avoid restrictive diets and medications. Still, I think every sufferer remembers the pain and works to stay hydrated. In the U.S., nine percent of men and six percent of women have had a painful kidney stone. Medications can work to prevent recurrent stones, but often lead to side effects or are too costly.

Personally, if the test can accurately predict your risk, there is no harm in taking the questionnaire. It definitely trumps the agony of a kidney stone.

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