What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are small hard stones formed due to the accumulation of dissolved minerals in the inner lining of the kidneys. They vary in size but they are crystalline in nature and hence have a sharp structure causing pain in the Kidney. They are made up of a number of varying compounds, but they are primarily composed of calcium oxalate.
Important Facts About Kidney Stones
- Stone in kidney are usually yellow to brown
- Most kidney stones are formed and excreted singly
- Know how the kidney stones were formed by the shape and size of the stone
- Scientific name for kidney stone is calculus or nephrolith. The condition is referred to as nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis
- Kidney stones can be classified on the basis of their composition: Calcium stones, Uric acid stones, Struvite stones, & Cystine stones
- Men are more likely to develop kidney stones as compared to women
- Acidic diet makes one more prone to develop kidney stones
- Kidney stones can reoccur
Kidney Stones Symptoms
- Kidney Pain: Usually a sharp pain occurs in the lower abdomen or one side of the back and may extend to the groin and the lower abdomen. The pain occurs suddenly and gradually becomes more intense. In some cases the pain may be continuous, while for others it may occur suddenly and last for a few minutes. When the stone moves along different places in the urinary tract, the intensity of the pain also changes. Kidney Stone pain usually occurs late at night or early in the morning.
- Urinary problems: Kidney stones make urination very painful. Often people report passing of blood with urinating, change in color and smell of urine, frequent urge to urinate and difficulty in urinating. This happens because the stone present in the urinary tract does not allow the urine to pass in a smooth and normal way. The exertion of immense pressure to urinate inspite of the blockage due to the stone in the urinary tract causes bleeding when urinating.
- Other symptoms: An individual having fever, nausea, vomiting and feels cold shows signs of a possible infection. This infection could be a result of the presence of stones in the kidney.
Kidney Stones Causes
- Family history: Some people may have abnormally high amount of calcium in their urine due to their genes. It usually gets transferred from one generation to the next. This usually causes the formation of kidney stones.
- Medication: Certain medicines such as furosemide, acetazolamide, some antacids, dexamethasone, theophylline, hydrochlorothiazide, aspirin products, gout medicines, triamterene, anti viral, indinavir, etc. as well as vitamins C and vitamins D increase the risk of kidney stone formation.
- Obesity: People who are obese and have high quantities of animal proteins and salts in their diet are prone to develop kidney stones. Moreover, they excrete more amounts of uric acid, calcium and oxalate through urine. This increases their chances of having kidney stones.
- High blood pressure: The heart has to work more in case someone has high blood pressure. This causes damage to the blood vessels. In such a scenario, the kidney is not able to remove the waste matter from it because of the damaged blood vessels. Hence, it causes the development of kidney stones and may eventually lead to kidney failure.
- Recurrence of kidney stones: It is observed that a person who has already had a kidney stone attack is likely to have such an attack again. Chances of recurrence of kidney stones are 80 to 90%. People who have had a kidney stone attack at a younger age are more susceptible to another attack because with time the chances of recurrence increase.
- Kidney stones in Men vs. Women: Men are more prone to develop kidney stones than women because they have more muscle mass. This means that more tissues break down due to metabolic reactions leading to more waste generation. Thus it results in increased chances of kidney stone formation. Also, men have a more complicated urinary tract than women which also contributes to them being at high risk of developing kidney stones.
- Fewer intakes of fluids: Inadequate intake of fluids causes kidney stones. Fluids help to flush out the excess of nutrients and waste matter from the body. Absence of required amount of fluids leads to accumulation of waste matter which solidifies into stones and causes pain.
Kidney Stones Complications
- Obstruction: Kidney stones cause obstruction in the urinary tract and does not allow urine containing waste and excessive nutrients to pass. It causes a lot of pain and further complications.
- Kidney Infection: Blockage in the urinary tract does not allow waste materials to pass easily. The waste matter causes infection in various parts of the urinary tract. Infections such as sepsis are fatal because they refer to a state in which the blood is infected by bacteria and leads to blood poisoning.
- Injury to the ureter: The ureter is a duct that connects the kidney to the bladder. Steinstrasse is a condition in which stone particles accumulate in the ureter. These stone particles are hard crystalline structures with sharp edges. When they pass through the ureter, they cause injury to the ureter and may also cause bleeding.
- Kidney failure: Kidney stones can cause kidney failure in two ways:
- Kidney stones not treated & continue to obstruct the urinary tract: It leads to the thinning out of the kidney making its functionalities difficult.
- Infections: These infections caused by kidney stones result in chronic urinary tract infections by inflammation and scarring of kidney tissues.
Kidney Stones Diagnosis
- Blood test: Kidneys carry the process of removing waste matter from the blood. Testing blood helps to understand the levels of calcium and other components present in the blood.
- Urine test: Stone particles are passed out of the body in urine. Testing of urine sample over a few days will show the presence of stone particles preset in urine, hinting at formation of kidney stones.
- Testing the stones that have been passed: Stones that have been passed through urine may be examined to understand its composition and the kind of kidney stones being formed. This later will help to treat the condition keeping in mind the kind of stones that had formed.
- Imaging: Abdominal x- rays, CT, non invasive test and intravenous urography are ways to get an image of the location and size of the kidney stone. Such information helps in the treating kidney stones.
Kidney Stone Treatment
Treatment for kidney stones depends on the size of the stone and the intensity of the symptoms.
|Small stones with low intensity symptoms|
|Large stones with high intensity symptoms|
How can kidney stones be prevented?
- Drinking plenty of water reduces the chance of higher concentration of solid particles in urine.
- Required amount of magnesium must be taken as it helps in absorbing and assimilating calcium content from the body.
- Intake of high amount of sugar must be avoided as they hinder the absorption of calcium by magnesium. It may also cause abnormalities in the kidney, such as increase in the size of the kidney.
- Less physical activity allows bones to release calcium into the body. To prevent this exercising is a must. Exercises also help to cure high blood pressure and reduce chances of kidney stones.