Your kidneys perform a vital function, filtering the blood to remove excess waste from your body and producing urine to remove that waste.
Sometimes, however, the urine becomes saturated with a mineral that it canâ€™t fully dissolve. A kidney stone is formed â€“ and when it causes a blockage it is often described as one of the most painful conditions you can experience.
â€œSome of my patients describe a pain worse than childbirth,â€ says Mr Stephen Keoghane, consultant urological surgeon practicing at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.
As many as five to 10 in every 100 people are estimated to be affected by pain related to kidney stones at some point in their lives, a number that is increasing drastically according to a study published by Mr Keoghane.
There are some simple steps that you can take to reduce the risk of kidney stones.
â€œDrink enough fluid to produce pale, clear urine,â€ says Mr Keoghane. â€œThere is a relationship between dehydration and stone formation, so people may be more at risk after periods of hot weather.â€
The liquid intake will vary depending on the climate, but in the United Kingdom he recommends an average intake of three to four litres per day.
Another way to look after your kidneys is to eat healthy.
â€œAvoid too much animal protein (meat), salt and processed sugar.â€
Mr Keoghane also recommends a healthy diet and maintaining a normal weight in relation to your height.
Another important risk factor is your family history.
If you experience sudden pain in your stomach or have blood in your urine, it might be time to see a specialist.
â€œIf you suffer from kidney stones, a specialist can help make recommendations to prevent stones in the future,â€ Mr Keoghane says.
Stephen Keoghane (pictured to the left) is a consultant urological surgeon practicing at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.