What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and salts. They can be as tiny as a sand grain or as big as a corn kernel. Most of the time, kidney stones do not show any symptoms. But, when they start moving in the kidney or the ureter, or when they pass through the urine, the pain can be agonizing.
Kidney stones can lead to kidney infections and damage.
What causes Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones form when the urine contains more crystal-forming substances and lesser substances that dilute them and prevent them from sticking together.
There are different types of kidney stones based on what they are made of. Each type of stone has a different cause of formation.
These stones are made of calcium oxalate. Oxalate enters the human body through high-oxalate foods like potato chips, peanuts, and chocolate.
Uric acid stones
These stones develop with the urine is highly acidic.
Urinary tract infections lead to the formation of this type of stones. They are large and obstruct the flow of urine.
This type of stones is a result of cystinuria, a genetic disorder.
Family health history, dehydration, protein-rich foods, high sodium diet, obesity and digestive diseases raise the risk of kidney stones.
What are the symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are known from severe pain in one side of back or abdomen that radiates to the groin. The pain shifts as the stones move.
Other symptoms are:
- Painful urination
- Pink, red or brown colored urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Fever and chills
How are Kidney Stones diagnosed?
The lab tests that help doctors identify the presence of kidney stones and understand their composition are:
High levels of calcium or uric acid in blood hint possibility of stone formation in kidneys.
More stone-forming minerals or fewer stone-preventing substances in urine suggest kidney stones.
Abdominal X-ray and computerized tomography reveal presence or absence of stones.
Analysis of passed stones
Lab analysis of stones passed through urine helps determine their cause.
What are the treatments for Kidney Stones?
In case of small stones, the aim of the treatment is to make them pass through the urine. Patients are asked to drink a lot of water to be able to flush out the urinary system. Medication recommended includes:
To relieve pain while passing the stone
To relax muscles in `ureter and help pass the kidney stone quickly
In the case of large stones, the objective of the treatment is to break the stones or remove the stones. Here are some of the procedures:
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy
Sound waves are used to break the stones into tiny pieces that can be passed through urine. The procedure can cause a little pain. So the doctor may administer anesthesia.
The kidney stones are removed using instruments inserted through a small incision in the back. This procedure is called percutaneous nephrolithotomy. General anesthesia is administered during the surgery. The patient needs to be hospitalized for a day or two.
A ureteroscope along with a camera is passed through urethra and bladder to your ureter to find the location of the stone. Some special tools are then used to break the stone into tiny pieces. A stent is placed in the uterer to reduce swelling and speed up healing. General or local anesthesia is administered during the procedure.
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