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By: Aroga | Date: August 2, 2020

Kidney Stones – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment Options

Does frequent urination, pain while urinating, and blood in urine sound like your bathroom story? Don’t worry, you are not alone! Kidney Stones is one of the most common ailments in our country. Approximately, 12% of Indians are suffering from it. Here’s the good news! Thanks to medical science, mild to severe cases of Kidney Stone can now be treated through surgical as well as non-surgical measures, with low involvement of risks & complications.

Kidney Stone

The kidney is the filter of our body and it works round the clock. When there is an excessive intake of foods that are highly concentrated, such as protein rich-diet, sugar, salt, meat, calcium tablets, and vitamin D, making them difficult to digest, there is a gradual accumulation of the waste. These wastes, over time, take the form of the stones. Although in most of the cases the stone is as small as 4 mm, it can sometimes be as large as chickpeas and in extreme cases, as large as a cricket ball. Small kidney stones pass through urination, whereas medical intervention is required for the larger ones.

In majority of the cases, stone formation happens in the kidney but is not limited to that area of the body. Stones can develop anywhere in the urinary gland, including, urethra, bladder, and ureters. Also, one might have single or multiple kidney stones.

Let’s understand the different types of kidney stones.

Kidney Stones – Types

There are four types of commonly found kidney stones. Analysis of a kidney stone is a prerequisite to determine the course of the treatment.

Calcium-based kidney stones are most common, estimated to be found in 90% of the patients. Purine, a protein found in fish, chicken, and eggs causes the formation of uric acid. Genetics also play an important role in kidney stone formation. Other less common types of kidney stones are struvite and crystine. Struvite is commonly found in women, while the other three are gender-neutral.

Kidney Stones – Symptoms

A kidney can be home to a kidney stone for years without the patient even realizing. The symptoms begin to showcase once the kidney stone passes through the kidney to the urinary bladder, urethra, or ureters. It is then, the urine starts smelling foul, looks cloudy, and pain is felt while urinating. Other symptoms to look out for are sudden backaches, abdominal pain, fever, and chill. In extreme cases, bleeding and blockage may also be experienced.

An appointment must be scheduled with a doctor specialized in this field for a low-risk Kidney Stone treatment, if the patient starts experiencing even the slightest symptom.

Let’s understand the causes of kidney stones –

Kidney Stones – Causes

Diet plays an important role in the formation of kidney stones, so does the heredity. A balanced diet and hydration, with regular exercise go a long way in keeping kidney stones away in most of the cases.

There are certain medical conditions that increase the possibility of kidney stone formation. Some of these medical conditions are,

  • Hypercalciuria (high calcium levels in the urine)
  • Blockage in the urinary gland
  • Gout
  • Kidney cysts
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Parathyroid disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Weight loss surgery and other stomach/intestine surgeries

Different medications such as calcium-based antacids, ciprofloxacin, diuretics, Crixivan, and various antibiotics enhance the chances of kidney stone formation. If these need to be taken regularly, it is advisable to consult the doctor and get the kidney scanned.

Age is another contributing factor for kidney stone formation. For men in their 40s and women in their 50s, the possibility is higher.

Knowing the causes & factors responsible for kidney stone formation helps in better prevention. Still, if there are symptoms, there are various low-risk kidney stone treatments.

Low-Risk Kidney Stone Treatment 

The first step is scanning the stone. Once a doctor is through with the physical examination, there can be the following recommendations for testing of a kidney stone.

  • Blood tests for calcium, phosphorus, uric acid, and electrolytes
  • BUN ( Blood urea nitrogen) and creatinine to assess kidney functioning
  • Analysis of urine to check for crystals, bacteria, blood, and white cells
  • Stones’ examination to determine their type

To check the kidney obstruction, some of the commonly used tests are:

  • Abdominal X-rays
  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Ultrasound of Kidney
  • intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • retrograde pyelogram
  • MRI scan of the abdomen and kidneys

Based on the results of the tests conducted, a kidney stone treatment plan is recommended.

Keeping hydrated is the most commonly given advice in the kidney stone treatment. Drink eight to ten glasses of water daily, as it helps in passing stones. In case it is a problem in severe cases, fluids have to be injected through tubes.

Simple and easy to digest meals are recommended.

Medication

Medication is given based on the intensity of the pain and severity of the disease. A few of the commonly prescribed medicines for pain relief are Zyloprim, Ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, Acetaminophen, etc. To reduce further stone formation, Phosphorous solutions and Thiazide diuretics are recommended.

Lithotripsy

Small stones usually get dissolved and pass through medications. Lithotripsy is done, when the stone is large and does not break by medications. The process involves the exposure of patients to sound waves to break the stones into smaller pieces. Then, it is passed through medications.

In most cases, low-risk kidney stone treatment is enough, and kidney stones are passed in a period of three to six months, based on severity and patient.

However, if the stone is large, pain is unbearable, and the patient has a history of certain medical conditions, kidney stone surgery is required.

Tunnel surgery (Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy)

Tunnel Surgery is recommended in extreme cases, when the pain is unbearable, the stone is too large to pass, or the infection has spread. The doctors make a small incision in the back to remove the stone.

Ureteroscopy

In this kidney stone treatment, the ureteroscope is used to remove the large-sized kidney stones. There is no cut involved in this treatment approach. The ureteroscope is a mini and flexible telescope. It is passed through the urethra till the point where the stone is located. It acts as an eye for the surgeon. After seeing the stone and its exact location, the stone is removed through a very thin and flexible scope. The urine is drenched through a stent, which is usually removed after 4-10 days..

The Bottom Line

Kidney Stone is a widely prevalent condition today across the globe. Thanks to continuous research and development, most of the cases can be resolved with the help of surgical and non-surgical processes, with minimum risk involvement.

Nurture your kidney by keeping it hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and a regular dose of exercise!


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