Kidney Stones

What are kidney stones? They are crystal form aggregates that accumulate in the kidneys (or renal) and are caused by dietary minerals in the urine. Find out how your kidneys work.

Medical X-ray image showing a large renal calculus or kidney stones.

Kidney stones are also called renal stones, renal calculus or urinary stones and they may vary in size and some are small enough to be passed out of urination without causing symptoms. The stones of sufficient size such as those at least 3 millimeters can obstruct the ureter which eventually leads to post-renal azotemia and hydronephrosis as well as ureter spasms. These conditions cause pain from the sides where the kidneys exist particularly between the ribs and the hip.

Kidney stones may also cause pain in the lower abdomen and groin which is a condition known as renal colic. Renal colic is experienced in waves that may last for one hour starting from the flank or lower back up to the groin and genitals.

Causes

Renal stones consist of mineral and acid salts and are caused by multiple factors. Most stones are in the form of calcium stones or calcium oxalate. Oxalate may be produced by the liver while some fruits and vegetables including nuts and chocolates have high oxalate content.

High dosages of vitamin D may also increase calcium concentration in our urine.

A diet high in sugar and sodium can also cause kidney stones.

Uric acid stones easily form in the urine if a person does not drink enough fluids or if he discharges too much fluid.

A high protein diet is also a health risk.

Signs and symptoms

Aside from experiencing pain from the flank, people with kidney stones experience pain during urination. They usually urinate pink, red or brown urine. The urine may be cloudy and foul smelling. There is an urge to urinate persistently.

An infection due to the stones may cause fever and chills, nausea and vomiting as well. More serious and alarming symptoms are blood in the urine, difficulty in passing urine as well as severe pain so painful that you cannot sit still or locate a comfortable position. These conditions need medical attention immediately.

Diagnosis

Kidney stones is a disorder that can be diagnosed through urinalysis, physical examination, ultrasound examination and blood tests. A history of having them may also help the doctor’s diagnosis. A person is most likely to develop the disorder if family history tells that someone in your family has it. Men are most likely to suffer from it and those above 40 have high risk. However, anyone of any age can have it and those who are obese are at at high risk.

Treatment

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat kidney stones after the doctor has confirmed the presence of stone. However other treatments are also available.

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. The disorder is treated in many ways, one is through extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy where large stones difficult to pass through urination are transformed into smaller fragments.
  • Laser lithotripsy. An invasive form of surgery called laser lithotripsy can also be done to remove the stones.
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy can also be suggested by the doctor. It is a procedure to remove small stones of about 2 cm in size by making a small puncture through the skin specially in the pelvic area.
  • Medicines. A medication such as alpha blocker can help relax ureter muscles and assist in passing stones more quickly combined with drinking large amounts of water of up to 3 quarts per day.

We’ll keep you updated on some natural remedies for kidney stones.