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Do Antibiotics Raise Kidney Stone Risk?

As the study of medicines takes a giant leap every day, an equal if not larger, a leap is being taken simultaneously by the ill effects that accompany these medicines. In today’s world, we end up buying OTC (Over the Counter) medicines when we as much as let out a sneeze. Therefore, most of the times we fail to realize the ill-effects of prolonged usage and over prescription of some medicines. One such case is the damage done to our body by the antibiotics that we take for every single ailment that affects us. 

The Other Side of the Story

Kidney stones are the hard pebble-like mineral deposits that develop in our kidneys. Research has proven that these antibiotics pose a serious threat in the form of kidney stones when we resort to what is called ‘the abuse of medicine’. There has been a considerable spike in the reported cases of kidney stones in recent years. Studies suggest:

  • Although scientists are yet to produce a comprehensive list of all the factors that contribute to the rise in kidney stones, there is enough evidence to suggest that oral antibiotics can raise kidney stone risk.
  • Out of the twelve known classes of antibiotics, five classes of oral antibiotic namely sulfas, cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, nitrofurantoin, and broad-spectrum penicillins, are now being linked with a rise in the risk of kidney stones.
  • This risk is seen more in women and also in young children. As leading experts of a study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said, “Over the last 30 years, we’ve seen this dramatic shift in the epidemiology, where there’s a tremendous increase in the number of children and adolescents who are affected by stones. So the disease, which is still the same, is now beginning earlier in life.”

Also, read about: Life After Kidney Transplant.

Effects of Antibiotics on our Body

The science behind this risk states that the urinary, intestinal and gut microbiomes in our body, which can also be defined as the colonies of microorganisms that occur naturally, are worst-hit by antibiotics and this leads to developing of kidney stones.

  • Antibiotics change the composition of these microbiomes and cause a disturbance in their bacterial structure. Kidney stones are quite painful, and if they are too large they cannot pass through the urinary tract easily.
  • Such cases of kidney stones need to be treated by urologists who would either remove them or break them down into smaller pieces so that they can easily pass through the urinary tract.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact relationship between an antibiotic and a patient developing kidney stones. This is because it sometimes takes several years for the kidney stones to develop. The studies that highlight the link between antibiotics and kidney stones, analyzed a sample size of patients who had been prescribed any of 12 different classes of oral antibiotics in the three to 12 months leading up to the study.

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Preventive Measures

  • Studies conducted over the recent years highlight that up to 30 percent of antibiotic prescriptions given by doctors and medical practitioners were inappropriate. Doctors should exercise caution while prescribing oral antibiotics, especially to children who off late have become the largest section of the society receiving these drugs.
  • We do not need to stop the usage of these antibiotics completely but necessary discretion must be used while using them. For instance, most doctors today prescribe antibiotics for viral infections which do not even warrant a microbial treatment. A viral infection is treated by the body on its own and pushing antibiotics in your body will not assist or expedite its treatment in any way. Doctors need to keep in mind the risks associated with over-prescription of antibiotics and should prescribe them judiciously.

Must Read: Foods To Eat When You Have Kidney Stones.