Kidney stone also known as nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis, is so common among grown-ups
Generally, men are more affected by kidney stone compared to women, as it is found that by the age of 70 years, 19% of men and 9% of women are diagnosed by this ailment
However, there is no need for the people to stress over stones as it can be managed effectively with better treatment.
Together with corrective medicines, there are certain prevention measures for avoiding the chance of reoccurring
What are different types of kidney stones?
There are different types of kidney stones depending on the constituents that are present in the stones, they can be,
- Calcium stone, formed out of calcium and oxalate
- Uric acid stone, that is made of uric acid and calcium
- Struvite stone, that is formed from magnesium, ammonium and phosphate
- Cystine stone, that is composed of cystine, a natural chemical made in the body
What are the causes of kidney stones?
- Kidney stones are formed when substances like calcium, oxalate, cystine, struvite or even uric acid make up into tiny crystals, which will become bigger gradually and get deposited in the urine
- If the levels of these minerals are higher, then the chances are really high for the kidney stones to form
- Apart from the deposition of these substances, it is even possible to occur when you are not making enough urine
- So, it is better to drink ample amount of water, which will increase the quantity of urine and thereby prevent the formation of kidney stones
- When you become well hydrated, the possibility of the accumulation of minerals in the urine will be kept away
- In general, stones will pass out of the body through urine but in certain conditions, when the stones are larger in size, it will get stuck in the urinary tract and block the passage of urine
- Such a situation for sure inflicts pain, so it is much needed to remove the stones with appropriate procedures
What are the risk factors of kidney stone formation?
There are several elements that increase the possibility of developing kidney stones, these include,
Certain medical conditions like,
- Primary hyperparathyroidism
- Diabetes mellitus
- Crohn’s disease
- Gastric or intestinal bypass surgery
- It can happen even for the people who have polycystic kidney disease or any another cystic kidney disease
Along with the above mentioned factors certain dietary habits also causes kidney stone, which incude,
- Not drinking enough fluid, diet with low levels of calcium
- Use of calcium supplements
- Diet with high levels of animal protein
- Diet with high levels of sugars, diet with low levels of phytate
- High sodium diet
- Frequent spinach consumption
- Chances are high for this disease to reoccur and if anyone in your family has or had kidney stones, then you are more likely to get affected by this ill-health
- Kidney stones can be even caused with the consumption of medicines like, diuretics, calcium-based antacids etc
What are the symptoms and signs of kidney stones?
There are times when kidney stone is asymptomatic and symptoms become noticeable only when the stones move from the kidneys through the urinary tract.
The bothering pain
- Like most other ailments, kidney stones also inflict pain.
- Usually pain occurs during urination due to the hindrance caused by the stones, as it blocks the flow
- Pain caused can be mild to intense depending on the size of the stones.
- Even if the pain is moderate, it is better to consult a doctor and take treatment under him or her
- Although, the associated pain will get reduced but one cannot steer clear of the pain completely without proper treatment, as the waves of pain will keep fluctuating from severe to mild and vice versa
- The unbearable pain caused due to kidney stone, which is also called as renal colic, usually lasts from 20 to 60 minutes
- The pain will be felt in the back, between the ribs and the hip and in the lower abdomen
The red signal
- Blood in your urine is another common symptom that you may note
- Blood in the urine is also known as hematuria
- In this case the urine will turn into pink or red color and in certain cases, the blood in the urine will be visible only under a microscope
- Together with the pain and blood, you may find gravel or tiny crystals in your urine if you are affected by kidney stone
- Nausea and vomiting are the other symptoms that may arise
Diagnosis for detection of kidney stones
Physical examination as well as tests like urine test, blood test etc will be done for diagnosing and it will be based on the symptoms shown by the patients.
- In the case of doubt, Computed Tomography Scan or CT scan will be employed to find the stone
- There are both high dose and low dose CT scans, with low dose CT scan, radiation exposure can be minimized
Ultrasound imaging test
- For the people who are in need to evade from the radiation like pregnant women, children etc, in such situations an ultrasound imaging test or sonogram will be made use
- In some cases X-rays are also used to detect the stones, but they will not be helpful always
Treatment and Care of kidney stones
The treatment options for kidney stone will depend on the size and location of the stone, the components in the stone, whether the stones are hindering the urinary tract in addition with the pain caused to the patient. The most apt treatment should be worked out by considering all the factors.
- If the stone found is of smaller size with much lesser pain, then the patient will be advised to take home treatment
Succor at hospital
- In case if symptoms like nausea or vomiting with insufferable pain, then the patient must be taken to the hospital and he or she should be given with stronger medications and Intra-Venous fluids (IV)
- Medications for relieving pain include Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) and for facilitating the passage of kidney stones, medications like tamsulosin (Flomax) can be taken
- All these medications should be consumed only under the guidance of the doctor for avoiding any risks
- For removing the bigger stones that are impeding the ureter, ureteroscopy is done
- Under this procedure a thin telescope will be passed through the urethra and bladder, into the ureter and kidney for breaking the stones in to smaller ones
- Laser is what is used in ureteroscopy, which shatters the stones and that will eventually moved out through urine
Shock Wave Lithotripsy
- Another treatment procedure for breaking down the larger stones is Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL)
- Here shock waves are used toward the kidney stones that are 1 cm or less located in the kidney and upper ureter
- With the use of these waves, bigger stones will be broken down and those fragments will be passed out of the body through urine
- When the larger stones are broken down into fragments, then it will become much easier for the smaller stones or fragments to pass out through urine
- Very large kidney stones are treated using Percutaneous Nephro-Lithotomy (PNL)
- This is a sort of surgey and will be performed on rare conditions
- Just like ureteroscopy, PNL also make use of small and thin telescope, but unlike ureteroscopy, here the telescope will be passed through the skin of the back into the kidney for removing the stone
Prevention methods for kidney stones
Kidney stone usually comes up with the risk factor of recurrence. If anyone got affected with this ailment, then there will be a possibility for the disease to reoccur in the future. Kidney stones will reappear even if the patient had taken enough medications.
For preventing this risk, certain measures should be followed.
- Stones passed through the urine must be analyzed for determining the components present, which include calcium, oxalate, cystine, struvite and uric acid.
- In the respect of any suspicion, urine should be tested that too by performing a 24-hour urine collection
- The patient is expected to collect all the urine specimen produced over the whole day
- In association with urine test, other tests like blood tests, imaging test etc also should be done.
- One can break away from the problem of kidney stone, by increasing the fluid consumption
- It is recommended to drink enough water for increasing the amount of urine that passes through the kidney to where the substances like calcium, oxalate, cystine, struvite and uric acid are deposited, which will avoid the formation of stones
- It is advised to drink at least 12 glasses of water or any healthy fluid every day
- Kidney patients can limit their fluid intake, according to the recommendation given by the doctor
Proper diet pattern
- One should also stay away from sugar-sweetened beverages, as it will increase the chances for kidney stone
- Dietary habits should set up appropriately to evade from the probability of reoccurrence
- Certain items like egg, meat etc should be avoided which cut down sodium and animal protein you’re your dietary regimen and thereby restrict the formation of kidney stones
Along with all these measures, one should never overlook to take proper preventive medication to reduce the risk of kidney stones in the future