Important Facts about Kidney Stones

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are a hard solid mass of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys.

Kidney stones form when minerals or acid salts in your urine form crystals and can appear in any part of your urinary tract.

You can have kidney stones for years without knowing they’re there. As long as these stones stay in place within your kidney, you won’t feel anything; pain starts when the stone moves out of your kidney.

Diet, dehydration, excess body weight, some medical conditions, family or personal history, and certain supplements and medications are among the many causes of kidney stones.

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Types of Kidney Stones:

  • Calcium oxalate
  • Uric acid
  • Struvite
  • Cystine

Not all stones are visible on the abdominal X-Ray.

 

Symptoms:

Symptoms depend on the size, shape, and location of the stones.

A kidney stone will not cause symptoms until it moves around within your kidney or passes into your ureters, or becomes very large. The symptoms include:

  • Pain in your lower back or side of your body.
  • Nausea and Vomiting with the pain.
  • Blood in your urine.
  • Feeling pain when urinating.
  • Unable to urinate.
  • Feeling the need to urinate more often.
  • Fever.
  • Having urine that smells bad.

Smaller kidney stones may not cause pain or other symptoms; they will pass out of your body in your urine.

 

Diagnosis of kidney stones:

After physical examination by your physician including taking your family and medical history, you might be asked for the following tests:

-blood test

-urine test

-imaging techniques: ultrasonography, CT-scan (gives more details about the size, shape, and density of the stone)

-Analysis of passed stones

A metabolic evaluation is done if the patient has a high risk of forming more stones in the future.

 

Treatment:

 Depend on the symptoms, stone characteristics, and the medical history of the patient.

The bigger the stone, the smaller the chance of passing it – the closer the stone is to the bladder the higher the chance of passing it.

– Small stones with minimal symptoms can pass in the urine without invasive treatment; the doctor treats the patient by giving medication like alpha-blocker and a pain reliever and by telling him to drink a lot of water.

– Large stones with symptoms: when the stone continues to grow and causes severe pain; an active treatment is necessary (a surgical treatment): ureteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithotomy, parathyroid gland surgery, and shock wave lithotripsy by using sound waves to break up stones.

For more details about the treatment of kidney stones, follow the link.

Prevent kidney stones

  • Drink water: Staying hydrated helps you urinate more often, which helps “flush away” the buildup of the substances that cause kidney stones.
  • Limit salt
  • Lose weight. If you’re overweight, try to lose some pounds.
  • Take prescriptions. Your doctor may prescribe some medications that help prevent kidney stones.