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Diseases & Conditions

Kidney Stones

Kidney StonesCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Kidney Stones?

A kidney stone is a hard mass developing from crystals which have separated from the urine. Urine contains certain chemicals which prevent crystal formation but this doesn’t work in everyone.

Causes of kidney stones

Kidney stones can be formed when urine contains too much of certain, specific substances which creates small crystals that in turn become stones. Dehydration is the biggest risk factor for kidney stones. Symptoms may not become apparent until the kidney stones begin moving down the tubes (ureters) following which urine empties into the bladder. Whenever this happens, the stones can block the urine flow out of the kidneys. This in turn causes kidney swelling. Those who have had kidney stones often find them recurring again in the future. Certain specific kinds of stones can occur with ileal bypass for obesity, renal tubule defects or bowel disease.

Medications for kidney stones

Non- prescription medicine, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), may relieve pain. These include aspirin and ibuprofen (such as Motrin and Advil). Sometimes, very rarely, patients with hypercalciuria are given sodium cellulose phosphate. A doctor may prescribe acetohydroxamic acid (AHA) if struvite stones can’t be removed.

Prevention of kidney stones

Drinking a lot of water is a simple and very effective lifestyle change to prevent kidney stone. Foods rich in calcium, may help prevent calcium stones. A person with highly acidic urine needs to eat less of fish, meat, and poultry. A person should drink more than a gallon of water every 24 hours, with a third of that during the night, to prevent cystine stones.

Risk factors of kidney stones

The risk factors of developing kidney stones are as follows:

  • Family or a personal history of kidney stones.
  • Being an adult over the age of 40.
  • Dehydration and not drinking enough water.
  • Eating a diet that's high in sugar, sodium, and protein.
  • Surgery and digestive diseases.
  • Medical conditions like cystinuria, hyperparathyroidism, renal tubular acidosis, and some urinary tract infections.

Symptoms of kidney stones

Some kidney stones may not produce symptoms. People having kidney stones often report the quick onset of excruciating and cramping pain in their lower back, groin, or stomach. It could be so severe that it often causes nausea and also vomiting. A ureterolithiasis is also known to result in blood in the patient’s urine. There may be fever, if the person’s urinary tract is also infected along with having kidney stones. Sometimes kidney stones may also cause symptoms such as difficulty in urinating, penile pain, urinary urgency, or testicular pain.

Treatment for kidney stones

For small ureterolithiasis having minimal symptoms:

  • Drinking water that is at least 2 to 3 quarts or 1.9 to 2.8 liters in a day.
  • Some of the pain relievers that can be prescribed by your doctor are ibuprofen like Advil and Motrin etc. , acetaminophen or Tylenol or others or for mild pain naproxen sodium i.e. Aleve.

For bigger stones showing symptoms:

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is a procedure that makes the use of sound waves to create vibrations (which are known as shock waves), strong enough to break the kidney-stones into very little pieces, that later passes out in the patient’s urine. This breaking of stone can create a loud sound and could be moderately painful. As a reason the patient may be lightly sedated or mild anesthesia may be used for the patient’s comfort.
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is a procedure, which involves removing a kidney stone that is too large, surgically, by making a small back incision.
  • The doctor will pass a thin tube with a light attached (ureteroscope) fixed with a camera through the urethra and the bladder to remove a stone in the ureter or kidney by maneuvering it to the kidney-stone. Once located, special tools designed for the task break the kidney stone into little bits which then pass out through the patient’s urine.

Types of kidney stones

The most common type of kidney stone or ureterolithiasis is the one containing calcium combined with either phosphate or oxalate. A struvite or infection stone, a less common type of stone, is caused by an urinary tract infection. Other type of stones like uric acid, are as a rule a little less common, and the last type is the rare cystine stones.