A kidney stone is a hard object which is made from the chemicals in the urine. Urine has several types of wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little urine, crystals begin to form. These crystals may also attract other elements that join together to form a solid which will get larger unless it passes out of the body with the urine.
Typically, such chemicals are eliminated in the urine by the kidneys. In most people, drinking enough liquid throughout the day washes out the chemicals in urine and prevents or stops a stone from forming. There are 4 types of kidney stones: calcium oxalate, uric acid, cystine, and struvite.
After a stone is formed, it may stay in the kidney or travel to the urinary tract and reach the ureter. Sometimes, tiny kidney stones can move out of the body in the urine without causing many symptoms of pain. But some kidney stones do not pass out of the body through the urine and block the ureter, causing a blockage or back-up of urine in the kidney, ureter, bladder, or urethra, which causes a lot of pain. Other common symptoms of kidney stones include severe pain in the lower back, blood in the urine, foul-smelling urine, cloudy urine, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills.
Reasons behind the formation of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are fairly common these days. Some types of kidney stones may be genetic and even run in families. Such types of kidney stones often occur in premature babies. The urinary tract system is responsible for making and passing the urine out of the body. The urinary tract system includes the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, and ureters. When urine, containing stones, pass through the ureter and then the urethra, it can feel anything from mild to extreme pain.
A major reason behind the formation of kidney stones is due to dehydration. People pay a lot of attention to what they wear, eat and perform at the workplace. However, in the rat race, people often forget to prioritize or even pay attention to the necessities for their health. Being hydrated is one such habit. Drinking very less water can contribute to the formation of kidney stores.
Diet, stress, and unhealthy lifestyle and habits have made humans prone to various health disorders including kidney stones. Kidney stones are a combination of salts and minerals which get collected in the urine. Kidney stones vary in size and may range from being pea-sized to being as large as a golf ball. While most times kidney stones can pass through the urinary tract, sometimes the stones stay in the kidneys only. If you have pain in your groin area, belly, back, sides of the back, it is advised to consult a urologist and get a diagnosis for kidney stones. An early diagnosis and treatment will help prevent the condition and symptoms from worsening.
What are the types of kidney stones?
The biggest risk factor for developing kidney stones is not drinking enough water and other fluids. Identifying the type of kidney stone can help find out the possible cause and decide on the best treatment for you. There are 4 types of kidney stones-
- Calcium-based kidney stones- Calcium based kidney stones are the most commonly found kidney stones and are usually in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a naturally occurring material found in various foods. Some fruits, vegetables, nuts, and chocolate, in particular, have a high oxalate content. Eating lots of such foods can increase your chances of developing kidney stones. A modification in your diet can help reduce the risk of acquiring calcium-based stones.
- Struvite stones- This type of kidney stone is made up of magnesium ammonium phosphate and occurs most often due to certain types of bacteria caused by UTIs (urinary tract infections). These bacteria increase the urine’s pH balance, making it less acidic. Eating foods like meat, dairy and grains can increase the number of acids produced in the body, preventing the risk of kidney stones.
- Uric acid stones– Uric acid kidney stones occur when the urine has a high amount of acid content and a low pH. They can be caused by dehydration, not drinking enough fluids or eating a high protein diet.
- Cystine stones- This type of kidney stone is formed when the body abnormally processes amino acids.
What are the signs of kidney stones?
A kidney stone usually does not cause symptoms until it moves around within the kidney or passes into the ureters and the bladder. If the stones become lodged in the ureters, it may block the normal urine flow and cause swelling in the kidney and ureter spasm, which can be extremely painful. At that stage, the patient may also experience the following signs and symptoms-
- Severe and sharp pain in the sides, back, and below the ribs
- Pain which radiates to the lower abdomen and groin region
- Pain comes in waves with fluctuating intensity
- Pain or burning sensation while peeing
- Cloudy, foul-smelling urine
- Pink, red, or brown-colored urine
- A persistent urge to urinate,
- Urinating more often than usual and urinating in small amounts
- High fever and chills (in case of a kidney infection)
Pain caused due to a kidney stone can change and may shift to a different location and increase in intensity as the stone shifts through the urinary tract.
Long term consequences of delaying treatment of kidney stones
Kidney stones range in size from the size of the grain to that of a pearl. Kidney stones can be smooth or jagged in texture and are usually yellow or brown in color. A large kidney stone is likely to get stuck in the urinary system, which can block the flow of urine and cause strong pain.
If left untreated, kidney stones can highly increase the risk of developing chronic kidney infection or disease. lf a patient has one kidney stone, he is at an increased risk of developing another stone. Patients who have developed one kidney stone are at 50% risk for developing more kidney stones within 5 to 7 years.
Without treatment, kidney stones can cause severe, permanent kidney damage. Kidney stones also increase the risk of urinary tract infections and kidney infections, which can result in spreading germs into the bloodstream.
How can you prevent kidney stones?
The best way to prevent kidney stones in most cases is to drink enough water and fluids every day. People should drink at least 8 to 12 cups of fluid per day. If a person has kidney disease and needs to limit fluids, the urologist will tell the patient how much fluid you should have each day.
Limiting your intake of sodium and animal protein (like meat, eggs) can also help to prevent kidney stones. After diagnosing the type and composition of kidney stones, the urologist may also suggest patient-specific diet recommendations to prevent the recurrence of kidney stones.
Getting the best and successful treatment for kidney stones is essential to prevent any more damage to the kidneys. Consult the best urologist for the proper treatment of kidney stones and get rid of the troubling symptoms of the condition.
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