Do You have kidney stones?
Do You have kidney stones?
The lifetime risk of kidney stones is about 19% in men and 9% in women. In men, the first episode is most likely to occur after age 30, but it can occur earlier. Other diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity may increase the risk of kidney stones.
What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is a hard object that is made from chemicals in the urine. There are four types of kidney stones: calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine.
Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. The crystals attract other elements and join together to form a solid that will get larger unless it is passed out of the body with the urine. Usually, these chemicals are eliminated in the urine by the body's master chemist: the kidney. In most people, having enough liquid washes them out or other chemicals in urine stop a stone from forming. The stone-forming chemicals are calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate.
After it is formed, the stone may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract into the ureter. Sometimes, tiny stones move out of the body in the urine without causing too much pain. But stones that don't move may cause a back-up of urine in the kidney, ureter, the bladder, or the urethra. This is what causes the pain.
Possible causes include drinking too little water, exercise (too much or too little), obesity, weight loss surgery, or eating food with too much salt or sugar. Infections and family history might be important in some people. Eating too much fructose correlates with an increased risk of developing a kidney stone. Fructose can be found in table sugar.
What are the symptoms of a stone?
If you have a very small kidney stone that moves easily through your urinary tract, you may not have any symptoms, and may never know that you had a kidney stone.
If you have a larger kidney stone, you may notice any of the following symptoms:
- Pain while urinating
- Blood in your urine
- Sharp pain in your back or lower abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
If you are having any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.
What are the treatments for kidney stones?
The treatment for kidney stones depends on the size of the stone, what it is made of, whether it is causing pain, and whether it is blocking your urinary tract.
If your test results show that your kidney stone is small only taking pain medicine and drinking plenty of fluids may help push the stone through your urinary tract. If your kidney stone is large, or if it is blocking your urinary tract, additional treatment may be necessary.
One treatment option is shock wave lithotripsy. This treatment uses shock waves to break up the kidney stones into small pieces. After the treatment, the small pieces of the kidney stone will pass through your urinary tract and out of your body with your urine. This treatment usually takes 45 minutes to one hour and maybe done under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep and unable to feel pain.
Another treatment option is ureteroscopy. This treatment is also done under general anesthesia. If the stone is small, the doctor may be able to remove it. If it is large, it may need to be broken into pieces. In this case, a laser will be used to break the stone into pieces that are small enough to pass through your urinary tract.
In rare cases, a surgery called percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) is needed to remove a kidney stone. During the surgery, a tube will be inserted directly into your kidney to remove the stone. You will need to be in the hospital for two to three days to have and recover from this treatment.
How to prevent kidney stones?
The best way to prevent most kidney stones is to drink enough fluids every day. Most people should drink around 2 Liters of fluid per day. If you have kidney disease and need to limit fluids, ask your doctor how much fluid you should have each day. Limiting sodium and animal protein (meat, eggs) in your diet may also help to prevent kidney stones. If your doctor can find out what your kidney stone is made of, he or she may be able to give you specific dietary recommendations to help prevent future kidney stones.
If you have a health condition that makes you more likely to have kidney stones, your doctor might tell you to take medicine to treat this condition.
Dr. Rakesh Rai. MS, FRCS, MD, ASTS Fellow.