Kidney Stone Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment
Health & Fitness

Kidney Stone: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

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What is Kidney Stone?

Kidneys are a very important part of our body. They help filter blood before sending it back to the heart and regulating & filtering minerals from blood. They are two bean-shaped organs which also help to remove waste and fluid from your blood to make urine. Sometimes, when you have too much of certain wastes and not enough fluid in your blood, these wastes can build up and stick together in your kidneys. These clumps of waste are called kidney stones. Kidney stones usually consist of calcium oxalate but may be composed of several other compounds. They are hard and like pebble pieces that form in one or both of your kidneys. Kidney stones vary in size and shape. The stones may be small and pass unnoticed through the urinary tract and rarely, some kidney stones are as big as golf balls and they can also cause extreme pain as they leave the body. Kidney stones usually originate in your kidneys. However, they can develop anywhere along your urinary tract, which consists of these parts:

  • Kidneys
  • Ureters
  • Bladder
  • Urethra

Symptoms of Kidney Stones:

Kidney stones are known to cause severe pain. This severe pain is called renal colic. Symptoms of kidney stones may not occur until it moves around within your kidney or passes into your ureter and become lodged; Ureter is a tube connecting the kidney and bladder. At that point, you may experience these signs and symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin
  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Pain on urination
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present
  • Urinating small amounts

Causes of Kidney Stones:

Anyone can get a kidney stone. It is depends on your lifestyle and your food habit. Men get kidney stones more often than women do. The leading cause of kidney stones is a lack of water in the body. Stones are more commonly found in individuals who drink less than the recommended water. Kidney stones form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances — such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid. When there is not enough water in your body to dilute the uric acid, a component of urine, the urine becomes more acidic. At the same time, your urine may lack substances that prevent crystals from sticking together and then an excessively acidic environment in urine can lead to the formation of kidney stones.

Medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infections, renal tubular acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, medullary sponge kidney, and Dent’s disease increase the risk of kidney stones.

Risk Factor of Kidney Stones:

Kidney stones are most likely to occur in people between the ages of 20-50 and more men than women develop kidney stones. Sex also plays a role. Different factors can increase your risk of developing a stone. Risk factors of Kidney stones include:

Family or personal history: – If someone in your family has kidney stones, you’re more likely to develop stones, too. And if you’ve already had one or more kidney stones, you’re at increased risk of developing another.

Dehydration: – Not drinking enough water each day can increase your risk of kidney stones.

Obesity: – High body mass index (BMI), large waist size and weight gain have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones.

Diet: – Eating a diet that’s high in protein, sodium (salt) and sugar may increase your risk of some types of kidney stones.

Hyperparathyroidism condition or other medical condition: – Diseases and conditions that may increase your risk of kidney stones include renal tubular acidosis, calcium-based antacids, hyperparathyroidism, triamterene diuretics, certain medications and some urinary tract infections.

Gastric bypass surgery: – Gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease or chronic diarrhea can cause changes in the digestive process that affects your absorption of calcium and water, increasing the levels of stone-forming substances in your urine.

Diagnosis of Kidney Stone:

Several different tests can verify the existence of a kidney stone. Your doctor can prescribe for lab tests or imaging tests to diagnose kidney stones. Here are some tests:

Blood & Urine Test: – Urine and blood tests can help to find out what type of kidney stones you have. Blood tests may reveal too much calcium or uric acid in your blood and Urine tests can show whether your urine contains high levels of minerals that form kidney stones.

Imaging: – X-rays or Ultrasound or CT Scans can find out kidney stones in your urinary tract. Sometimes x-ray can miss small kidney stones which can find out with ultrasound or CT Scans.  A CT scan will ascertain the state of the ureter, bladder, and kidneys, whether or not a stone exists.

Treatment for Kidney Stones:

Treatment for kidney stones is depending on the type of stone and the cause. If a person has small stones then the treatment will not be complicated and won’t require invasive treatment. Doctors will try to remove stones while urination. Here are some treatments which can help to pass a small stone.

Drink enough fluid: – Drink water or juice as much as you can. Once your stomach is full of fluid, it may help flush out your urinary system. More urination will also help to clear your internal organs.

Pain relievers: – A small stone can cause some discomfort and pain. Your doctor may recommend pain relievers so that it can relieve you.

Medical therapy: – Your doctor may give you a medication also to help pass your kidney stone. These medications may help you to pass the kidney stone more quickly and with less pain.

If you have a large stone then treatment will be different. Kidney stones that can’t be treated with conservative measures because they cause bleeding, kidney damage or ongoing urinary tract infections — may require more-extensive treatment. Procedures may include:

Using Shock Wave Lithotripsy: – This procedure called Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL). The doctor can use ESWL to break the large kidney stone into small pieces than smaller pieces of the kidney stone can pass through your urinary tract. The procedure lasts about 45 to 60 minutes and can cause moderate pain, so a doctor can give you light anesthesia to make you comfortable.

Surgery: – If ESWL was unsuccessful then your doctor may recommend for surgery. This surgical procedure called Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy involves surgically removing a kidney stone using small telescopes and instruments inserted through a small incision in your back. You will receive general anesthesia during the surgery and be in the hospital for one to two days while you recover.

Using a scope to remove stones: – These procedures called Cystoscopy; Cystoscopy uses a thin lighted tube equipped with a camera to look inside the urethra, bladder and the rest of the urinary tract. Once the stone is found, the doctor can remove it or break it into smaller pieces. The doctor performs these procedures in the hospital with anesthesia. You can typically go home the same day.

Prevention from Kidney Stones:

  • Drink enough fluid throughout the day
  • Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods
  • Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein
  • Continue eating calcium-rich foods, but use caution with calcium supplements

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