Our kidneys efficiently convert waste and fluid from the blood into the urine. However, when this natural process is on hold by bio waste and insufficient liquid to dissolve, these particles accumulate in the kidneys as kidney stones. A kidney stone forms when these excessive minerals collect in the urine due to a lack of hydration. Deposits of minerals and salts within the kidneys form the kidney stone. These deposits can be the size of corn or a grain of salt. Kidney stones of any size can be painful. Sometimes these stones are small and go unnoticed when passed through the urinary tract, unlike a large stone with acute pain where medical intervention may be necessary to allow the stone to give or to break the stone to remove it and cause more distress to anyone. These stones are brown or yellow with a smooth or rough texture.
Types of Kidneys Stones: –
- Calcium Stones: Kidney stones are calcium stones which contain calcium oxalate, which is found naturally in many foods, and our liver produces this daily.
- Struvite Stones: Infections in the urinary tract cause these kidney stones. These stones tend to grow big quickly, with or without symptoms.
- Uric Acid Stones: These stones form in people who don’t drink enough water, sweat enough, or eat a high-protein diet and have gout.
- Cystine Stones: This kidney stones form in people with an inherited disorder where the body excretes excess amino acids (cystinuria).
Kidney stones form for various reasons. The most common cause is the high levels of minerals accumulated in the urine due to lack of water consumption, including calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. The factors that cause kidney stones or increase the risk of kidney stones are:
- Insufficient intake of water
- Diet rich in protein, sugar, or sodium
- Overweight or obesity
- History of kidney stones
- Family history of kidney stones
- Gastric bypass or intestinal surgery
- Polycystic and cystic kidney disease
- Irritation in the bowel or joints
- Excessive diarrhea
- Digestive diseases
- Medications, including calcium-based antacids or diuretics
- Medical conditions include renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria, hyperparathyroidism, UTIs, and many more.
Kidney stones may not show symptoms until they move in or from the kidney to the ureter. Many kidney stones are so small that you may not even know they exist in your body. However, sometimes kidney stones cause increased pain when shaken or passed, which is also one of the acute symptoms of kidney stones. Some other symptoms include:
- Severe back pain
- Abdominal pain
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- One must call for immediate medical help if these symptoms intensify and include:
- Pink, red or brown urine
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills due to infection
Treatment for Kidney Stones
Treatment for kidney stones depends on several factors, such as the size of the stone, its structure, and whether it causes pain or obstructs the urinary tract. To know the precise answer to these questions, the doctor will ask you to have some tests like a urine test, blood test, CT scan, or X-ray. Once the test results are precise, the doctor will suggest any of the following options as a course of treatment:
- If the stone is small and you have minor symptoms, the doctor will ask you to wait at least 2-4 weeks for the kidney stone to disappear by drinking excess water.
- The doctor may recommend pain relievers and ask you to let the stone pass.
- The last method is surgery whenever the pain intensity is too much, and a kidney stone infection seems possible. With that said, your doctor might recommend any of the following procedures:
- Shock wave lithotripsy (SWL): This treatment method uses high-energy sound waves to break the stones into small particles allowing kidney stones to pass through urine.
- Ureteroscopy: In this method, a thin, flexible tube is inserted through the urethra, bladder, and ureter to reach the stone and break it up with a laser (if it is too large) or remove the stone (if it is small or medium).
- Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy or Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy: Experts choose this surgical treatment method when other treatments cannot break the stone. In this surgery, surgeons insert a thin tube through the skin to reach the stone and remove it in small pieces. If the kidney stone is big, surgeons prefer open surgery to remove it. In this method, the doctor will make an incision on your side to reach the kidney stone and pull it out through the opening.
The course of treatment varies from case to case. Therefore, it is essential to identify the symptoms and consult your doctor before opting for a treatment method. Also, it is vital to know the precautions to take to avoid the recurrence of kidney stones in the future.