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Kidney Stones - Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Treatments
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Kidney Stones

What are Kidney Stones?

A kidney stone is a small, solid mass that forms inside a person’s kidney. A kidney stone is made of mineral and acid salts. There are different types of kidney stones such as calcium stones, struvite stones, uric acid stones, cystine stones, and other rare types can also occur. Knowing the type of kidney stone is a good way to know the cause of its formation and how to decrease the risk of forming additional stones.

Having a kidney stone can be really painful; the pain usually starts in a person’s side or back just below the ribs. The pain varies as the kidney stone moves through the urinary tract. No permanent damage is caused by a kidney stone. A person will only need to take some pain medication and drink lots of water in order to relieve the symptoms.

Today, approximately 12% of America’s population has kidney stone disorder. The numbers of those affected has decreased in levels as compared to the past years’ records. Women nowadays are more conscious and familiar with kidney stone management as compared to men. Men tend to be afflicted with the condition more than women at a ratio of 3:1.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Symptoms of a kidney stone will only occur when it has reached the tube connecting the kidney and bladder called the ureter. These symptoms are as follows:

  • Intense pain in the side or back, just below the ribs
  • Spreading pain on the lower abdomen
  • Pain while urinating
  • Having pink, red or brown urine
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • A reoccurring urge to urinate
  • Fever when infection exists

On the other hand, immediate help from a professional would be needed when:

  • Pain becomes so severe causing an inability to stay still
  • Pain is accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Pain is accompanied by fever and chills

What causes Kidney Stones?

A kidney stone has no exact known cause; however, a number of factors do create conditions that commonly affect those most sensitive to the condition.

A kidney stone is formed when there an imbalance in the components of urine. When urine is composed of more crystal-forming substances, and there is only a small portion of fluid that can dilute those substances, the crystals start to stick together and become stones. This is the reason why lots of fluid intake is always advised.

Diagnosis of Kidney Stones

When a doctor sees the signs and symptoms of a kidney stone being present, a series of tests and procedures will be recommended such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Imaging tests
  • Analysis of passed stones

Once the physician has had the opportunity to review test results, recommendations for the most appropriate treatment can be made.

Treatment of Kidney Stones

Since there are different types of kidney stones, treatment for each will vary. As for the treatment of small kidney stones with minimal symptoms, those affected will only need to follow these simple procedures:

  • Drink 2 to 3 quarts of water a day
  • Take pain relievers to decrease mild symptoms

The treatment for larger stones will require a much more invasive treatment. These procedures are as follows:

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. This treatment procedure creates vibrations called shock waves in order to break a kidney stone into small pieces. The loud noise that the procedure creates can cause some pain which is why sedation or a small amount of anesthesia might be used periodically.
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy surgery. This procedure is the process of removing the kidney stone through an incision in the back.
  • Ureteroscope. This procedure involves a tube equipped with a camera that is inserted into the ureter in order to locate the kidney stone. After locating it, a tool is then used to break the stone into pieces.
  • Parathyroid gland surgery. This process of surgery removes the tumor that has been formed in one of the parathyroid glands due to the high excretion of calcium in a person’s urine.

Prevention of Kidney Stones

The following are suggested in order to prevent the risk of having a kidney stone:

  • Always drink approximately 2.5 liters of water throughout the day
  • Reduce the consumption of oxalate-rich foods such as spinach, tea, and soy.
  • Reduce the amount of salt and animal protein in your daily meals
  • Continuously eat a lot calcium-rich foods

It would be beneficial to contact a dietitian who can help with the planning of meals that would reduce the risk of kidney stones.