Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & More You Should Know
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A kidney stone or stones can cause discomfort in your back or side, blood in your urine, nausea and vomiting, and all of these symptoms can occur in conjunction with the pain. Kidney stones can range in size from as tiny as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball; however, the majority of kidney stones are around the size of a chickpea. Stones that are not too large can move through your urinary tract on their own, but larger stones may require surgical removal.
What’s a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is a solid mass or crystal that has an uneven shape and can be as little as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Stones can form in either of your kidneys. It is possible that you do not even notice that you have a kidney stone (or stones), depending on the size of the stone(s). Even relatively few stones have the potential to cause excruciating pain as they pass through the urinary tract on their way out of the body. It’s possible that drinking fluids will speed up the procedure, which could take up to three weeks.
It’s possible for a huge kidney stone to become lodged in your ureter (the tube that drains urine from your kidney down to your bladder). If this occurs, the stone may cause bleeding and prevent urine from exiting the body. It may also prevent other bodily fluids from leaving the body. If a stone is stuck in your urinary tract and won’t pass on its own, your doctor may recommend surgery.
How common are kidney stones?
According to the findings of certain studies, kidney stones affect approximately one person in ten during the course of their lives. Even though they are much less common in children than in adults, kidney stones can nonetheless form for the same reasons that they do in adults. Children who suffer from asthma are four times more likely to experience these symptoms than children who do not suffer from asthma.
Who’s most likely to get kidney stones? What are the risk factors?
The population most at risk for developing kidney stones is made up of white men in their 30s and 40s. However, kidney stones can develop in anyone at any age.
There are a few different things that can put you at risk of developing kidney stones. These are the following:
Not drinking enough liquids.
Having a diet that is composed of the components that lead to the formation of stones (phosphate, for example, is in meat, fish, beans and other protein-rich foods).
Having a history of kidney stones run in one’s family.
Being unable to pass urine because of a clog in your urinary tract.
In addition, having certain medical problems can make you more likely to develop kidney stones. This is due to the fact that they have the potential to either raise or lower amounts of the chemicals that comprise a kidney stone. These conditions might include the following:
Hypercalciuria (high calcium levels in your urine).
Elevated levels of blood pressure.
Conditions such as gout and cystic fibrosis.
cysts of the kidneys.
a disorder of the parathyroid glands
Irritable bowel disease and persistent diarrhoea both characterise this condition.
a number of surgical operations, such as those involving the stomach or intestines, such as those performed for the purpose of weight loss.
A higher incidence of kidney stones has been linked to the use of certain drugs. These pharmaceuticals consist of:
Diuretics (water pills).
Calcium-based antacids (used to treat osteoporosis).
Crixivan® (used to treat HIV infections).
Topamax® with Dilantin® (used to treat seizures).
Cipro® (ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic).
Ceftriaxone (an antibiotic).
Consuming certain types of food may also increase your likelihood of developing kidney stones. These kinds of foods are included:
Meat and poultry products (animal proteins).
Sodium (diets high in salt).
Sugars (fructose, sucrose and corn syrup).
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Are kidney stones genetic (hereditary)?
Kidney stones can, unfortunately, run in families.
What’s the urinary tract? How does it work?
Because it eliminates waste and rids the body of excess fluid, the urinary tract plays an important role in the body. Your bladder, both of your ureters, your kidneys, and your urethra are all components of this system. In the following order, each organ is responsible for an essential function:
Your kidneys are bean-shaped and approximately the size of your fist. They are placed on either side of your spine, below your rib cage. They filter between 120 and 150 quarts of your blood every day in order to remove waste and maintain fluid equilibrium. Every day, your kidneys produce anything from one to two quarts of urine.
Ureters: Following the production of urine by the kidney, the fluid next makes its way to the bladder via the tube-shaped ureter. Each kidney has a single ureter that connects to it. Stones in the kidneys may pass through the ureters, but if they are sufficiently large, they may become lodged in the ureters. In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to remove the stone.
The organ responsible for storing pee is called the bladder, and it is located between your hip bones. It can accommodate approximately one and a half to two cups after being stretched out.
Your urethra is a tube, similar to a ureter, through which urine travels. This tube is called the urethra. It is the last stage of the urinary tract and the exit point for urine, as well as any kidney stones that may have formed. This action is referred to as urinating.
How long does it take a kidney stone to form?
It is possible to have kidney stones for years without being aware that you have them. You won’t feel anything as long as these stones continue to remain in their current location within your kidney. The discomfort associated with a kidney stone normally begins when the stone passes out of the kidney. Occasionally, a stone might form more quickly than it normally would, in as little as a few months.
Have a discussion about your risk factors with the healthcare provider you see. In order to determine how rapidly you produce stones, they could give you a urine test that lasts for 24 hours.
What are the most common types of kidney stones?
Calcium oxalate stones are the most typical kind of kidney stone. This kind of kidney stone is caused by calcium and oxalate combined in the urine. It is possible to develop this condition if you consume insufficient fluids, are deficient in calcium, and have excessive levels of oxalate in your body.
Uric acid stones are another type of commonly encountered stone. Purine is a naturally occurring chemical that is derived from animal proteins and serves as the source of these (meat, chicken and fish).
If I have multiple kidney stones, are they all made of the same substances?
Stones in the kidney can be composed of a variety of different substances. You run the risk of developing a stone composed of uric acid as well as a stone composed of calcium oxalate.
What are the symptoms of kidney stones?
It’s possible that you have a stone in your kidney and have no idea it’s been there for years. However, if it begins to move or grows to a significant size, you may begin to experience symptoms. The following are some of the symptoms of kidney stones:
Experiencing discomfort in the side of your body or in the lower back of your body This discomfort may start out as a dull aching that comes and goes at first. It is also possible for it to worsen to the point where you need to go to the emergency department.
Having feelings of sickness and/or throwing up in addition to the pain.
observing that there is blood in your pee.
Having a painful sensation when trying to urinate.
Being unable to urinate.
Having the urge to urinate more frequently than usual.
Symptoms of fever or chills.
Having urine that has an offensive odour or seems hazy.
Kidney stones that are less significant in size could not produce any discomfort or other symptoms. These so-called “silent stones” are eliminated from the body through urine.
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What are the symptoms of kidney stones in children?
Pain or blood in the urine is the two signs of kidney stones that are seen most frequently. The size of the stone, as well as its location, will determine the amount of discomfort that your child feels and the specific area that is affected. Among the other symptoms are:
The pain of a severe colicky nature.
Inability to urinate (when a stone blocks the urinary tract).
Urine that is cloudy and has a putrid odour, a high temperature, chills, or extreme weakness could be indicators of a serious infection.
The pee contained blood.
The majority of kidney stones that occur in children stay in the kidney itself, but up to a third of them can move from the kidney and become lodged in the ureter. Even while kidney stones that are left behind in the body are rarely painful, they can be the cause of recurring infections in the urinary tract. Those that become stuck in the ureter might cause intense discomfort similar to that of colic.
What causes kidney stones?
Urine contains chemicals that can lead to the formation of kidney stones. The components that can come together to form stones are ones that would ordinarily be eliminated through your urinary system. If they don’t, it’s because there isn’t enough urine volume, which causes the compounds to become highly concentrated and crystallised. When this happens, they don’t pass. In most cases, this is brought on by a lack of adequate water consumption. The following are the substances that produce stones:
The xanthine (rare).
These compounds, along with a number of others, are examples of waste products that are expelled from your body.
How are kidney stones diagnosed?
Your healthcare professional will talk to you about your past medical conditions and may decide to conduct some tests afterwards. These tests include the following:
Imaging tests: Your healthcare professional will be able to better see the size, shape, position, and quantity of kidney stones with the use of an X-ray, CT scan, and ultrasound. These tests will assist your clinician in determining the best course of treatment for you.
Test of the blood: A test of the blood will disclose how well your kidneys are functioning, as well as screen for infection and look for biochemical issues that could contribute to kidney stones.
Urine test: This test checks for symptoms of infection and evaluates the amounts of compounds that contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Additionally, this test analyses the patient’s urine.
How are kidney stones treated?
After making a diagnosis, your healthcare professional will first decide whether or not you actually require therapy for the condition. Urination could cause some of the smaller kidney stones to pass out of your system. This can be quite a painful experience. If it is determined by your provider that you do require treatment, the options available to you include medication and surgery.
Medications. Medication might be recommended for those who:
Lessen the discomfort. It’s possible that your doctor will advise you to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or, if you find yourself in the emergency room, a narcotic administered intravenously.
You need to relax your ureter so the stones can move through. Tamsulosin (Flomax®) and nifedipine (Adamant® or Procardia®) are examples of medications that are frequently recommended to patients.
Before you take any ibuprofen, you ought to consult with your primary care physician. If you are experiencing an acute episode of kidney stones and take this medication at the same time, you may increase your chance of renal failure. This is especially true for individuals who have a history of kidney disease and associated conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
Surgery. The removal of kidney stones can be accomplished using one of four distinct surgical procedures. The first three are considered minimally invasive, which means that the surgeon will either enter your body through a natural entrance (such as your urethra) or will make a minor incision.
Ureteroscopy is a procedure that involves inserting a thin, lighted tube called a ureteroscope into a patient’s urethra, then passing it into the bladder and finally into a ureter. This gadget first identifies the kidney stones and then either remove them in a “basket” for surgery or uses a laser to split them up into smaller pieces. When the kidney stones break up into tiny bits, they are then able to pass more readily down your urinary tract and out of your body.
During the treatment known as shockwave lithotripsy, you will be positioned on a specialised kind of surgery table or a tub. Shockwaves of high intensity are transmitted via the water to the stone (s). As a result of the shockwaves, the stones are shattered into smaller pieces, making it more simpler for them to leave your body.
When other treatments for kidney stones are unsuccessful — either because there are too many stones, the stones are too large or heavy, or because of their location — percutaneous nephrolithotomy may be an option. This procedure is performed through a small incision made in the back of the patient’s kidney. During this treatment, a tube will be sent straight into one of your kidneys via a small incision made in the back of the patient. After that, an ultrasonic probe will shatter the stone, and it will be removed using suction so that you won’t have to pass any of the shards. Following the procedure, a urethral stent will be inserted (an internal tube from the kidney to the bladder which is removed one week later). Patients are often kept in the hospital for observation throughout the night.
During open stone surgery, a deeper incision is made into the patient’s stone. It’s not done as often as other types of operations, especially ones that are less intrusive (0.3 percent to 0.7 percent of cases).
How are children treated for kidney stones?
Shock wave lithotripsy (SWL), which is a completely non-invasive therapy, is able to treat the vast majority of kidney stones that occur in youngsters. Your child will be given anaesthesia, and then focused sound waves of a certain frequency will be directed at the stones to break them into fragments that are small enough to be passed out of the body by urination.
How long does it take to pass a kidney stone?
It is possible that passing a kidney stone will take you a different period of time than it will for someone else. A stone that is less than 4 millimetres in diameter may move through the urinary tract in as little as one to two weeks. Stones that are larger than 4 millimetres in diameter may take between two and three weeks to pass fully.
When the stone has reached the bladder, it usually passes within a few days, but it can take longer if the patient is an older man or if the prostate is particularly large. There is a possibility that the pain will go away even if the stone is still lodged in the ureter; nonetheless, it is imperative that you follow up with your healthcare professional if you haven’t passed the stone within four to six weeks.
Are there any foods or drinks that help treat kidney stones? Are there any home remedies?
According to popular belief, the following three liquids can assist in the treatment of kidney stones:
Juice made from cranberries Cranberry juice is beneficial for the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs), but it does not alleviate the symptoms of kidney stones.
Apple cider vinegar. Because vinegar is acidic, consuming it can occasionally cause changes to your urine that are beneficial for the treatment of kidney stones. However, this does not always prove to be helpful. Have a discussion regarding the use of vinegar with your primary care physician.
Lemon juice. Citrate, which is abundant in lemon juice, is one of the best defences against the development of kidney stones. Citrates are found in a variety of citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, oranges, and melons. Citrates are also found in melons.
Coffee. There is some evidence that drinking coffee can reduce the likelihood of acquiring kidney stones.
Steer clear of soda and any other beverages that have added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. They put you in greater danger.
How can I prevent kidney stones?
There are a number of things you may do to lower your chance of developing kidney stones, including the following:
- Drink water. Consume between six and eight glasses of 8 ounces each and every day (about 64 ounces). Maintaining a healthy level of body water helps you urinate more frequently, which “flushes away” the accumulation of compounds that might lead to kidney stones. Be sure to drink even more water if you find that you are perspiring heavily.
- Limit salt. Eat less sodium. If you need assistance organising the foods you put into your body, consult with a dietitian is a good idea.
- Lose weight. If you are overweight, you should make an effort to shed some weight. Have a conversation about healthy weight with your healthcare professional.
- Comply with your doctor’s orders. Your doctor may recommend that you take certain drugs to help reduce your risk of developing kidney stones. The sort of stones that you have may determine the medication that you use to treat them.
Should I cut calcium out of my diet if I develop calcium oxalate kidney stones?
If you have calcium kidney stones, you might feel the urge to cut out foods that contain calcium because they could be contributing to your condition. However, you should not act in this manner at all; rather, you should do the opposite. If you have calcium oxalate stones, the most common type of stone, it is recommended that you consume a diet that is higher in calcium and lower in oxalate. This will help reduce the risk of further damage to your kidneys.
The following is a list of foods that are rich in calcium:
Milk from cows.
Cereal with added calcium that is served hot.
Included on the list of foods that are high in oxalates are, and you should try to eat less of these:
Peas and beans that have been dried.
Nuts and butters made from nuts
Bran from wheat
It is essential that you consume a large amount of fluids in order to dilute the toxins that are found in your urine.
What’s the outlook for kidney stones?
The prognosis for kidney stones is quite favourable, although there is always a chance that they will occur again (the stones coming back). The majority of kidney stones clear away on their own without the need for therapy as time passes. In most cases, medications and surgical procedures to remove bigger kidney stones are extremely successful and require only a short period of recuperation time.
Kidney stones are a condition that might affect a person more than once over their lifetime. If kidney stones continue to be a problem for you, your healthcare professional may recommend that you investigate the cause of the condition together. Changes to your diet might be able to help you avoid future kidney stones after the underlying cause has been identified.
Can a large kidney stone cause an injury?
Your likelihood of being injured by a kidney stone can increase depending on its size as well as its placement in the kidney. It is possible for a larger stone to become lodged in the ureter, which would result in an increase in pressure. This can result in renal failure, and in the worst-case scenario, you might even lose a kidney, though this is quite unlikely. Less than ten percent of stones measuring one centimetre in diameter have a chance of passing, and stones measuring more than one centimetre in diameter almost never do.
How long does the pain last after you pass a kidney stone?
The discomfort caused by a stone may linger for several days after it has passed completely. However, if the discomfort continues for more than a week, a follow-up imaging test—typically an ultrasound—will be performed to check for the presence of any additional blockage (sometimes due to a remaining stone fragment).
Can I live a normal life with kidney stones?
You shouldn’t let kidney stones prevent you from going about your everyday activities, and they shouldn’t significantly lower the quality of your life. Kidney stones are not permanent conditions because they can be passed with urine and because there are multiple treatment methods available.
Do kidney stones cause kidney disease?
If you’ve ever had kidney stones, you have a significantly increased likelihood of developing further kidney stones as well as chronic renal disease.
Are kidney stones a fatal condition?
No. Stones in the kidney seldom result in mortality.
When should I next make an appointment with my primary care physician?
If you are suffering any of the symptoms of kidney stones, don’t delay in making an appointment with your primary care physician. In order to receive treatment and avoid complications if you have a kidney stone, you will need to know where the stone is located and how big it is.
When is the appropriate time for me to go to the emergency room?
If the pain is intolerable, you should go to the nearest emergency room. You may be given medication to treat both your pain and any nausea or vomiting that you experience.
What kinds of questions should I ask the medical professional who is treating me?
- Should I be concerned that I have kidney stones, or may there be another explanation for my symptoms?
- Can you tell me what kind of kidney stone I have?
- What kind of shape does my kidney stone have?
- Where exactly is the stone that is in my kidney?
- How many stones do I have in each of my kidneys?
- Do I need treatment for the kidney stone, or will I be able to pass it on my own?
- Should I have a test to determine if I have the renal disease?
- What sorts of adjustments should I make to my eating routine?
- I need to get rid of the stones, but I’m not sure what kind of procedure I should have.
Stones in the kidney can be extremely annoying, and at their worst, they can be excruciatingly painful. You need to see a medical professional as soon as possible in order to prevent the current state of your health from becoming even more serious. The pain may become intolerable, in which case surgery may be required.
Don’t forget to take your medications as prescribed, consume enough of water, and adhere to any dietary recommendations. Keep in mind as well that kidney stones are a problem that is just transient. They won’t continue to be a nuisance forever.