Kidney Stones

Kidney stones, which are also known as nephrolithiasis or renal lithiasis refer to hard crystalline salts that form and deposit in the urinary tract or kidneys. The size of the stones varies in length. Some are very small and may not show any symptoms or signs of being there. Others are big and can grow as big as the kidney itself.

More About Kidney Stones

There are several factors that cause kidney stones. Any part of the urinary tract (from the kidneys all the way to the bladder) can be affected by them. The stones are usually made up of calcium oxalate but can also consist of other mineral deposits.

They often form when there is a high concentration of salts in the urine, causing the salts to crystallize and form the stones.

Kidney stones affect one in every 20 people. Men aged between 30 and 50 have a higher risk than women of being affected by kidney stones.

They normally cause hematuria, passing urine with blood – which can sometimes lead to kidney cancer. They also cause pain in other areas such as the abdomen, groin or flank.

Passing kidney stones is painful and the pain can get more severe if the stones are large. However, they are not likely to cause any damage if they are detected and treated early. Sometimes, pain medication or water may be enough to make the kidney stones go away.

If the kidney stones are severe and found their way to the urinary tract, a surgery may be required to get rid of them.

About Kidney Stones

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Causes of Kidney Stones

The several factors that cause kidney stones are listed below:

Dehydration

Lack or shortage of fluids, exercising without adequate fluid intake can lead to dehydration. Living in hot and dry climatic areas also leads to dehydration. Dehydration will allow the salts to crystallize as there will be no fluids to dissolve them.

High Concentration of Salts and Minerals

An excess amount of compounds such as calcium, oxalate, phosphate, etc may lead to the formation of salts that eventually become stones. The increase in the salt-forming substance can be as a result of dehydration or other factors.

Causes of Kidney Stones

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Types of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are differentiated by the type of salts that form them. The four most common types are listed below:

Calcium

Calcium stones are the most prevalent. Calcium oxalate is the most common one although it is possible to calcium salts consisting of phosphate or maleate. Foods such as potato chips, chocolate, peanuts, etc. should be minimized.

Interestingly though, getting enough calcium can go a long way in preventing kidney stones.

Uric Acid

It normally affects people suffering from gout or undergoing chemotherapy. Acidic urine is the main culprit. The acidity in urine is mainly caused by purines, which are mainly found in animal proteins (meat, fish, etc.).

Struvite

Women suffering from urinary tract infection (UTIs) are most affected by struvite stones. The stones are usually big and can lead to urinary obstruction. Struvite stones are mainly caused by a kidney infection.

Cystine

They affect both men and women who have cystinuria, a genetic disorder that causes cystine acid to be passed into the urine. Cystine acid is naturally found in people, however, it becomes a problem if the kidneys let an excessive amount pass into the urine.

Other Causes of Kidney Stones

Chronic and other medical conditions can lead to kidney stones. The conditions are:

  • Gout
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes

The following dietary pattern can increase the chances of having kidney stones.

  • Low fluid intake
  • Excessive intake of salt, animal protein, vitamin-D supplements, sugar and oxalate-rich foods such as spinach.
  • Medical History – Coming from a family that has had kidney stones increases one’s chances of having them. A person who previously had kidney stones is more to have them again.
  • Obesity – People with a high body mass index (BMI) may have higher chances of having kidney stones.

Pain Associated with Kidney Stones

Kidney stones pain, which is very severe is mainly felt in the belly and back. The pain is normally caused by the movement of the stones to the narrow ureter. It clogs the ureter, causing immense pressure in the kidney.

The pain normally starts without any warning. The severity changes when the stones move from one place to another. The pain comes and goes in a wave fashion. The pain is felt when the uterus tries to push the stones out.

Large stones cause severe pain, however, even small stones can cause great pain.

Signs of Kidney Stones

Here are some of the signs and symptoms of kidney stones:

Frequent Visits to the Bathroom

Going to the bathroom more frequently than usual is an early sign of kidney stones. This symptom might also indicate urinary tract infection.

Another noticeable thing is that a person only passes a small amount of urine each time. A blockage (probably caused by stones) may be causing this.

Strong Urine

Under normal healthy circumstances, urine should be clear and have a light smell. If the urine has a strong odor or color, it could be an indication of kidney or urinary tract infection.

Pain When Urinating (Dysuria)

A burning or sharp burn when urinating can be caused by stones that are located between the bladder and ureter. This kind of pain can be easily mistaken for a urinary tract infection.

Fever

Experiencing fever and chills simultaneously is an indication of that the kidneys or urinary tract need to be checked out.

Vomiting

Kidney stones can upset the stomach, which leads to vomiting.

When to See a Doctor in Atlanta for Kidney Stones

When a person experiences pain when urinating or passes urine with blood or pus, it may be time to go see a doctor.

The treatment differs depending on the stone type. Sometimes, the doctors may evaluate the stone by collecting a urine sample and then straining it.

Since kidney stones are mainly caused by dehydration, drinking lots of water every day may go a long way in dissolving the salts.

Kidney Stone Treatments

The following are some kidney stone treatments:

Pain Relief Medication

Pain relief medication and antibiotics may be enough to treat kidney stones.

Lithotripsy

Large stones can be broken up into smaller pieces using sound waves. The small stones can then be eliminated from the body when passing urine. This procedure may affect other organs such as the abdomen.

Ureteroscopy

Uterescopy is used to remove a stone stuck either in the bladder or ureter. A ureteroscope instrument is used for the process. The doctor removes the stone by inserting a small wire into the urethra and then to the bladder.

Tunnel Surgery

An incision in your back is used to remove the stones. This method is used as a last resort when other methods have failed, the pain is too much, the stone is too big, or when the stones are causing a damage to the kidneys.