Kidney stones are small mineral crystals that form in the kidney or urinary tract and cause sharp pain in the lower abdomen, belly and groin region. The condition of developing a kidney stone is scientifically known as nephrolithiasis.
The most common reason of kidney stones is concentration of urine due to dehydration or excessive fluid loss from the body through sweat. With the advancement of science and technology, kidney stone removal has become a minor operation and there are various ways of kidney stones treatment.
Causes Of Kidney Stones
There are various facts that can lead to the formation of kidney stones. Here we have recorded some of the most common causes of kidney stones formation.
- The first and leading cause of kidney stones is dehydration. Inadequate intake of water reduces the removal of minerals, impurities and salts through the urinary tract and these minerals tend to stick together to form tiny solid crystals.
- Kidney stone diseases can be genetic and affect a person who has a family history of kidney stones in previous generations.
- Medical conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and gout can also lead to kidney stones.
- People suffering from hyperparathyroidism are at greater risk of developing kidney stones, because the imbalanced release of hormones by the parathyroid gland causes increased release of calcium in the blood stream, thereby increasing the risk of kidney stones.
- A diet rich in sodium and oxalate foods can aggravate the chances of developing kidney stones.
Symptoms Of Kidney Stones
A kidney stone usually doesn’t show any symptoms until it is large enough to move around in the kidney or enter the ureter, thus blocking the passage of urine from the kidney to the bladder. Some of the prominent symptoms of kidney stones are:
- Pain during Urination
- Piercing pain in the back, lower abdomen and groin region
- The pain comes in waves and its fluctuating
- Red or Brown Colored Urine
- Foul-smelling Urine
- Increased Urge to Urinate
- Fever and Chills
Types Of Kidney Stones
There are four different types of kidney stones that are formed by different types of compounds and treatment is determined by the kind of stone that is formed in the kidney.
Calcium Stones: This is the most common type of kidney stone that is composed of calcium compounds (calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate and other minerals). Approximately 80% of kidney stones are calcium stones.
This is caused due to high level of calcium in the urine that combines with the waste products and form solid crystals in the kidney.
Uric Acid Stones: A diet that is rich in animal protein increases the production of uric acid during digestion and this acid crystalizes to form uric acid crystals.
Treating kidney stones formed by uric acid is easy because it is possible to dissolve them through medication.
Struvite Stones: Struvite stones are usually large in size and can cause infection.
Struvite stones are caused by urinary tract or bladder infection that disrupts the chemical balance of urine, thus increasing the release of chemicals that neutralize uric acid that stimulates growth of bacteria and results in formation of Struvite stones.
This category of stones is more prevalent in women because urinary tract infection is more common in women than men.
Cystine Stones: Cysteine stones are extremely rare and linked to heredity. Removal of cystine stones needs prolonged treatment. Cystine stones are composed of cystine, an amino acid found in proteins.
Treatment For Kidney Stones
The most vital determining factor for treating kidney stones is its present location in the kidney along with the size and the composition of the stone. The three most popular treatments for kidney stones are as follows:
Shock Wave Lithotripsy: Subject to the size and location of the kidney stone the Doctor might administer shock wave lithotripsy, in which, sound waves are sent through the Lithotripter to generate shock waves to break down the stones into tiny pieces so that they pass with urine.
This treatment might cause some pain and you might see blood in urine and experience slight discomfort during urination for a few days.
Ureteroscopy: This treatment is effective for removal of smaller stones from the kidney or ureter. The doctor inserts a tube or (ureteroscope) fixed with a camera to the bladder or ureter and once the stone is located, it can be broken into pieces by special tools. It is a minor procedure and doesn’t take much time to heal.
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: This procedure involves surgical removal of the stone from the kidney. It is done if the stone is considerably large in size.
The doctor will directly remove the stone using instruments through an incision made in the back. Generally, local anesthesia is used for this surgery and the patient might have to stay back 1 to 2 days in the hospital for recovery.
Tips To Prevent Kidney Stones
Developing a few healthy habits and following a healthy lifestyle is enough to keep you fit and lessen the risk of developing kidney stones.
Keep Yourself Hydrated: It is exceedingly important to drink sufficient amount of water all through the day, and more so if you live in a comparatively warm climate or sweat too much. Drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water without fail.
Cut Down the Intake of Oxalate Rich Foods: Plan a kidney stones diet if you experience any of the symptoms of kidney stones. Limit the intake of foods rich in oxalate such as green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli along with cucumber, tomatoes, fruits like bananas, cherries, grapes, mangoes, nuts like almonds, peanuts and tofu and soybean.
Be Cautious About taking Calcium Supplements: There is no need to limit the intake of calcium rich foods through the diet because calcium from foods doesn’t have any effect on kidney stones, but it is important to turn to your physician about intake of calcium supplements if you are suffering from kidney stones.
Limit Intake of Animal Protein: A diet for kidney stones should be low in animal protein, therefore, cut down the intake of red meat, poultry and fish. Opt for non-animal proteins such as legumes instead.
Have a Low Sodium Diet: Restrict the use of table salt in your food to 1500-2300 mg per day.Limit the Intake of Coffee, Green and Black Tea, Soft Drinks, Alcohol, Chocolate and Cocoa.
Hope this article has been able to shed light on the various causes, symptoms and treatments for kidney stones and ways to prevent kidney stones through a well-planned diet.