DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Is Urocit-K safe? I started taking it to prevent kidney stones. The label on the bottle unfolds to 2.5 feet long, and there is writing on both sides. All sorts of bad things are mentioned, such as the potential for ulcer formation, cardiac arrest, fatal high potassium, the possibility of bowel perforation, etc. Listen to this: “Experience with Urocit-K is limited.” How long has it been on the market? Wouldn’t I be better off with my kidney stones?

I’d like your opinion. In 52 years of having repeated kidney stones, I’ve been to at least seven urologists. The present one is the only one who put me on medicine. – S.K.

You’re right. The warning label is 2.5 feet long. The number of side effects is disturbing. If a pharmaceutical company were to market table salt as a drug, I am sure it would have an equally long warning label and list equally disturbing side effects.

Urocit-K is potassium citrate. I don’t know how long Urocit-K has been on the market, but I do know that potassium citrate has been used for a long time to prevent kidney-stone formation. It stops the crystals of stone-forming minerals from sticking to each other and forming a kidney stone.

I wouldn’t give a second thought to using it. But if it makes you uneasy, start adopting non-medicinal ways to prevent kidney stones. Foremost is increasing fluid intake. You should drink enough fluid to make your urine colorless. That takes about eight to 10 8-ounce glasses of water or the equivalent in other fluids every day.

Reduce the amount of meat you eat. Cut back on salt. Salt pushes calcium into the urine.

Ask your doctor if you can try these measures for stone prevention. Tell him you’re leery of the medicine. If you do form another stone, then I would urge you to take medicine. Repeat kidney stones are not good for the kidneys.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Would you answer a question for me concerning blood types? How are they listed in order of rarity? Everyone knows that type O is a universal blood donor and the most common blood type. What is next, starting with the most common and ending with the rarest? – J.A.

The largest percentage of people are type O, just as you said – 45 percent. Blood type A follows in second place with 40 percent. Coming in third is blood type B, with 11 percent. In last place is blood type AB, with 4 percent.

The percentages are not the same for all ethnic groups, but the order of blood types is the same.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Last year when my son Greg left college for summer break, he complained of an itchy sensation all over his body. Within a two-week period, a rash broke out on his hands and then his forearms, elbows, stomach, back, legs and feet. A dermatologist diagnosed contact dermatitis and mild eczema. The prescription he gave did not work. Greg then went to an internist, who found nothing wrong on examination or in his lab tests. He is presently going to an allergist, who has diagnosed eczema and a staph infection.

My youngest son stayed a weekend at Greg’s college and has since developed the same itching and rash. The rash and itching continue on both boys. My wife stayed with Greg, and she complains of an itching sensation, and now I have it. Benadryl controls the itch, but we don’t want to stay on it for life. Do you have an opinion? – M.P.

It appears incontrovertible that there is something in your son’s room that caused the itch-rash epidemic. I am counting on the allergist to come up with an answer. The itch must be related to histamine release, since the antihistamine Benadryl controls it. It’s what’s causing the histamine release that has yet to be identified. The same thing is probably responsible for the skin rash.

I don’t understand why both don’t disappear when the family is not exposed to the material present in the place where it all started. The family’s laundry should be washed with a different and mild detergent to see if that can rid you of the invisible pest.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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