KIDNEY STONES

A hard and crystalline material (consisting of minerals and salts), which is formed inside the kidney or in the urinary tract, is referred to as the Kidney Stone. When urine gets concentrated, the minerals present are crystallized and stuck together to form kidney stones. Kidney stones are often called as renal calculi and this condition is known as Nephrolithiasis. If stones are formed in the ureter, i.e., urinary tract, then the condition is termed as Urolithiasis.

Though it is painful to pass the kidney stones via urine, they are usually harmless and do not cause any permanent damage provided they are diagnosed sooner. Treatment for kidney stones depends on their position. Some patients are prescribed pain medication and asked to drink plenty of water to pass the stones. However, for those who have urolithiasis, and suffer from urinary tract infection and some other complications, surgery may be adviced. If one has a tendency to form kidney stones repetitively, a preventive treatment may also be prescribed.

Causes Of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are formed when there:

  • Are more minerals and salt (crystal-forming substances) than urine can dilute
  • Is a lack of substance that shall prevent crystals from sticking together to form a kidney stone

Types Of Kidney Stone

 It is important to know the type of kidney stones as it will help to find the cause and prevent the recurring instances of kidney stones. Hence, save the kidney stone when you pass and get it analyzed.

Types of stones include:

Calcium Stones

Most of the kidney stones are calcium stones, occuring mostly in the form of calcium oxalate and some times in the form of calcium phosphate. 

Oxalate:

  • Is naturally found in food; some fruits, vegetables, nuts, and chocolate
  • Is released daily by the liver
  • Concentration is increased by certain dietary factors and metabolic disorders
  • Is found more due to consumption of higher doses of vitamin D
  • Is also increased as a result of undergoing an intestinal bypass surgery

 Phosphate concentration is increased:

  • Mostly due to metabolic conditions such as renal tubular acidosis
  • Also because of migraine headaches
  • Due to seizure medications such as topiramate

Struvite Stones

An infection like the urinary track infection, results in struvite stones. These stones are comparitively large in size and they grow quickly. Most of the patients do not experience any symptoms at all.

Uric Acid Stones

Uric acid stones have multiple associated causes; the more common causes are:

  • Not drinking adequate fluids
  • Loosing too much fluids
  • Following a high protein diet
  • Having a gout
  • Genetic factors

Cystine Stones

People who have a hereditary disorder of excreting excess of cystinuria, an amino acid, tend to form cysteine stones.

Risk Factors Of Kidney Stones

Though kidney stones may occur to anyone, certain factors make some people more susceptible to have a kidney stone. Risk factors that may cause kidney stones are:

Gender

 Men are more prone to have urinary tract stones than women.

Age

 People whose age falls between 20 and 40 years are more prone to multiple occurrences of kidney stones.

Family And Personal History

 People are more prone to have kidney stones, if:

  • Their family members have had kidney stones
  • They themselves have kidney stones previously

Dehydration

People tend to have kidney stones if they tend to dehydrate often. They may dehydrate due to:

  • Not drinking adequate water on a daily basis
  • Living in warm climates
  • Sweating a lot

Certain Diets

Following certain diet regimens and consuming certain types of food regularly increase the risk of having kidney stones. Diets that increase kidney stone threat are:

  • High sodium diet
  • High protein diet
  • High sugar diet

Being Obese

Obesity increases the risk of having kidney stones. Having a higher value of Body Mass Index (BMI), tendency to gain weight very fast, and having a large waist size (not proportionate to the body) increase the kidney stone risk.

Digestive Diseases And Surgery

 Diseases and surgical procedures that affect the absorption of calcium and water during digestion increase the substances that accelerate the formation of kidney stones in urine. Few examples of such digestive diseases and surgeries are chronic diarrhea, gastric bypass surgery, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Other Medical Conditions

 Certain diseases and conditions such as renal tubular acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, and cystinuria, certain medications, and urinary tract infections increase the risk of kidney stones.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

 

Key symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Severe pain in one or all of these body parts: abdomen, flank, and groin. One shall experience pain only when the stone moves. As the stone moves from one part to another, the pain location also migrates accordingly
  • Hematuria, a condition where one may observe blood in urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and shivering if there is an infection
  • Painful urination
  • Urinary infection – cloudy and foul-smelling urine
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Urinating small amounts, too frequently

Diagnosis

To confirm whether someone has a kidney stone, a few tests and procedures are conducted. They are:

Blood Testing Shows the amount of calcium and uric acid in the blood
Urine Testing Shows whether urine contains increased levels of stone-forming minerals and decreased levels of stone-preventing substances
Imaging Abdominal X-rays, Ultrasound, and CT scan show the position of kidney stones

When you pass the stone via urine, try to collect the same and get it analyzed to plan a strategy for preventing further attacks of kidney stones. Generally, a lab test is performed to find the cause of kidney stone.

Treatment

 Treatment for kidney stones varies based on its size, position, type, and cause.

Small Stones

Kidney stones that are smaller in size do not need an invasive treatment. Your doctor may advise you to follow one or more of the below-mentioned remedies:

Drinking Fluids

 Drinking 2-3 liters of fluids (mostly water) in a day, will help you to pass the stone. Drinking large quantities of fluids will also result in clear urine.

Pain Relievers

 Though the size of the kidney stone is considerably small, it will still cause some pain while passing and to relieve such pain, your doctor may prescribe mild pain relievers.

Medical Therapy

 For some patients, doctors prescribe, alpha blockers, which relaxes the ureter muscle, and thus patients shall be able to pass the stone quickly and easily.

Large Stones

 Above-mentioned methods will not be effective, If the kidney stones:

  • Are larger in size
  • Are not able to pass along with urine on their own
  • Are causing bleeding
  • Are causing severe urinary tract infections

Your doctor may suggest one or more of the following procedures:

Shock Wave Lithotripsy

Based on the size and location of the kidney stone, your doctor may advise to go for a shock wave lithotripsy, a procedure which uses sound waves to break the stone into smaller pieces.

Nephrolithotomy

 Nephrolithotomy helps to remove kidney stones of very large size from the kidney. It removes stones surgically through an incision made in the back.

Ureteroscope

 Ureteroscope helps to remove relatively smaller kidney stones from ureter and kidney. It removes stones by using a thin tube, equipped with light and camera through the urethra and bladder.

Parathyroid Gland Surgery

 This is a surgical procedure that helps to prevent the repetitive formation of calcium phosphate stones that are caused by overactive parathyroid glands.

 

 

The above article serves only as reference. Kindly refer to your primary care provider for complete consultation and treatment.

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