Kidneys are responsible for filtering wastes from the blood in the form of urine. However, it is essential that the urine doesn’t remain concentrated as minerals and salts as this tend to form a crystalline structure known as kidney stones. They vary in size, type, and can develop anywhere inside the urinary tract. Kidney stone treatment is necessary as even a small stone can cause immense pain.
Here are the symptoms to watch for, what are your treatment options, and how to prevent them – you will have the upper hand in fending off kidney stones.
Who’s More at Risk for Kidney Stones?
Anyone from an adolescent to an adult can require a kidney stone treatment. However, some people are more susceptible, if they:
- Have had kidney stones before, then there is a 50% chance that they will have another one with 5-6 years
- Are obese and lives a sedentary lifestyle.
- Men, as they have a higher chance of getting kidney stones
- Are pregnant
What are the Types of Kidney Stones?
In general, there are four types of kidney stones:
1. Calcium stones – they are the most common stones and are of two types – calcium oxalate stones and calcium phosphate stones. When oxalate and calcium levels increases, it forms calcium oxalate stones. When alkaline urine combines with high levels of calcium, it forms calcium phosphate stones.
2. Uric acid stones – urine that is consistently acidic leads to the formation of uric acid stones. This may be the result of purine-rich diet (animal protein). When urine becomes concentrated, uric acid can form stone itself or by combining with calcium.
3. Cystine stones – these stones are a result of genetic disorder causing cystine in the kidneys. Cystine is a naturally occurring amino acid that forms crystals in the urine.
4. Struvite stones – these stones are the least occurring kidney stones in humans. They are a result of kidney infections or UTIs.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones usually remain symptom less if they are small and do not move into the ureter. The most common kidney stone symptoms include:
- Chills and fever if there is an infection
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Burning sensation or pain while urinating
- Reduced amount of urine excreted
- Pus or white blood cells in the urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood in urine
- Severe pain in the back and/or groin
Kidney stone removal is necessary because the stones can lead to complications including blockage of the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. Hence, individuals who do not get the requisite treatment or surgery are at a higher risk of developing chronic kidney diseases.
How to Treat Kidney Stones That don’t Pass on its own?
The health care professional may use:
- Shock waves (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy) to break down the stones into smaller pieces
- Surgery to remove stones (open surgery or laparoscopy)
- Ureteroscopy where a small tube with a fibre-optic camera is inserted to locate the stones. They then use delicate instruments to break down the stones into smaller pieces
How to Prevent Kidney Stones?
It is important to know what causes kidney stones. Foods high in oxalate, calcium, animal protein, sodium, all trigger kidney stones. Ensure that your diet involves plenty of vegetables and fruits, including seltzer in your diet also helps in prevention. If you are a high-risk patient, doctors may suggest you take preventive medication.