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Kidney Health
Kidney stone – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Overview

Kidney stone is a hard object which is made inside the body due to the chemicals present in urine. Each year it is estimated that more than half a million people suffer from kidney stones. Diet, excess body weight and lifestyle are some of the major factors influencing its cause.

Kidney stones can affect any part of the urinary tract, including the kidney and bladder. The passing of kidney stones is usually painful. Kidney stones don’t cause any harmful effects if diagnosed and treated at an early stage. This article covers almost all the things that you need to know about kidney stones, their causes, diagnosis, treatment, and more.

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

Kidney stones usually don’t cause any symptoms until the stone moves inside your kidney or lodges in the ureters. If so, then it blocks the flow of urine. As a result, the kidney may swell and can cause pain. The most common symptoms associated with kidney stones may involve the following :

  1. Severe pain below the ribs
  2. Pain at lower abdomen and groin
  3. Pain at either side of your lower back
  4. Blood content in urine
  5. Severe fever with shivering
  6. Urine with a very bad smell
  7. Pain or burning sensation during urination
  8. Urgent need to urinate frequently
  9. Decolouarated urine( especially pink, red, or brown)

What are the causes of kidney stones?

Everybody can get kidney stones. But for some people, the chance of getting kidney stones is higher than the others. For example, men have higher chances of getting kidney stones than women. Some of the causes include:

  1. Having kidney stones earlier
  2. Drinking very little water
  3. Unhealthy diet 
  4. Obesity or overweight
  5. Undergone gastric bypass surgery
  6. If your urine has a high uric acid content
  7. Genetics chance and hereditary transfer

What are the kinds of Kidney stones?

Kidney stones are mainly classified into:

  1. Calcium stones

This is the most frequently found type of kidney stone. It occurs when calcium combines with oxalate in the urine to form stones inside the kidney. These types of kidney stones are mainly caused due to inadequate fluid intake and when the body doesn’t have enough calcium. 

Calcium stones may also occur in the form of calcium phosphate. Specific fruits and vegetables, nuts, and chocolates have high oxalate content which can also contribute to calcium stones.

  1. Struvite stones

These types of kidney stones are caused by an infection in the upper urinary tract. They can become quite large stones sometimes with very few symptoms or no symptoms. They are generally made up of magnesium ammonium phosphate and constitute 10-15% of all kidney stones.

  1. Cystine stones

They are caused by a rare disease called ‘cystinuria. As a result of cystinuria, a substance called cysteine is leaked into the urine. When too much cystine gets accumulated in the urine, cystine stones are formed.

  1. Uric acid stones

Uric acid stones mainly occur when uric acid content in urine is high or when the acidic level of urine increases. Uric acid stones are mainly caused when you consume food that is rich in purines. Purines are usually high in fish, beef, chicken, and eggs.

People who are obese are at a higher chance of having uric acid stones. People who had undergone chemotherapy should also be precautious against uric acid stones. Uric acid stones can also be caused due to many other factors including hereditary.

How is kidney stone diagnosed? 

Diagnosis depends upon the type of kidney stone you are having. The urologist decides the diagnosis procedure by analyzing your medical history, health status, and the symptoms you are possessing. 

To continue the further procedure, your doctor needs to know the nature and size of your stone. For this procedure, a CT scan or a type of high-resolution X-ray known as KUB X-ray (Kidney-Ureter-Bladder X-ray) is used.

The KUB X-ray result is observed by the doctor to determine if shock wave treatment is necessary for the stone to disintegrate. After the stone comes out of your body, you may be recommended by the doctor to undergo a blood test to know the composition of calcium, phosphorus, and uric acid.

How is kidney stone treated?

First, your doctor recommends you drink a lot of water for a few days so that your stone comes out of your body without treatment. But if the stone is quite too large and blocks the passage of urine, then your doctor proceeds with surgery.

Kidney stones must be removed as soon as possible from the body to prevent infection. Short wave lithotripsy is the most common surgical method used to remove kidney stones from the body. They are proved to work best with large stones of irregular shape that block the urinal flow.

In rare cases, the surgical method used is nephrolithotripsy. This procedure is mainly used in cases where the stones cannot be removed using lithotripsy and in those cases where the size of the stone is greater than 2cm.

How to prevent the risk of kidney stones?

  1. Drink plenty of water

Drinking plenty of water is the first and foremost tip to be followed to prevent kidney stones. Drinking plenty of water can dilute the chemicals responsible for causing kidney stones and thus prevent stone formation.

Medical experts suggest that a person should drink water accordingly to urinate 2 liters of urine every day. Consuming beverages such as lemonade and other citrus fruits also prevent the formation of kidney stones.

  1. Consume more fruits and vegetables

Consuming a large number of fruits and vegetables reduces the acidic content in urine. The increased acidic content in urine supports the formation of kidney stones and thus by the intake of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of kidney stones.

  1. Limit animal protein

Intake of animal protein such as meat, fish, and egg can increase the risk of kidney stones. If you are having a kidney stone, then you should stop the consumption of animal protein.

  1. Avoid high salt intake

A high amount of salt intake increases the chance that foods rich in salts can also promote the risk of having kidney stones. High salt intake increases calcium which is a major factor responsible for developing kidney stones. Less salt intake also reduces the risk of high blood pressure.

  1. Avoid high doses of vitamin C

Increased intake of vitamin C can cause heavy oxalate production in urine and can support kidney stone development.

Kidney stones can be harmless or sometimes they can cause heavy pain. If you have any symptoms of kidney stone, then you should immediately consult a urologist. Diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones can ease the risk.

10 Sep 2021
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