Kidney Stone: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatment

Your kidneys take fluid and waste out of your blood to produce urine. Often these wastes can build up and stay together in your kidneys when you have too much of certain wastes and not enough fluid in your blood. Those waste clumps called kidney stones.

Types of kidney stones:

•    Calcium stones

•    Uric acid stones

•    Struvite stones

•    Cysteine stones

What are the causes and risk factor?

Everyone may get a kidney stone, but some are more likely to get it than others. Men get kidney stones more often than women do. Kidney stones are also more common in non-Hispanic white people than in people of other ethnicities. You may also be more likely to have kidney stones if:

•    You have had kidney stones before.

•    Someone in your family has had kidney stones.

•    You don’t drink enough water.

•    Your diet is rice in protein, sodium and/or sugar.

•    You are having obesity.

•    You have had gastric bypass surgery with or another intestinal surgery.

•    You suffer from polycystic kidney disease or another cystic kidney disease.

•    You have a certain condition which causes your urine to contain high levels of cysteine, oxalate, uric acid or calcium.

•    You have a condition which causes swelling or irritation in your joints.

•    You take certain medicines, such as water pills.

What are the symptoms?

If you have a very small kidney stone that easily passes through your urine, you may not have any symptoms, and you may never realize that you have got a kidney stone.

If you have a larger stone in your kidney, you can experience any of the following signs:

•    Discomfort when urinating

•    Blood in your urine

•     backache or pain in the lower abdomen

•    Nausea and vomiting

If you have any of these symptoms, please contact your health care provider.

What are the treatments?

The treatment for kidney stone depends on the size of the stone, what it is made of, whether it is causes discomfort or pain and whether your urinary tract is being blocked. Your doctor may ask you to have a urine test, blood test, x-ray or CT scan to answer these questions and to figure out the right treatment for you. Often a CT scan uses contrast dye. If you have ever had a contrast dye problem, make sure to tell your doctor about it before your CT scan complete.

When your test results indicate that your kidney stone is small, your doctor may advise you to take pain medicine and drink a lot of water to help push the stone through your urinary tract. If your kidney stone is big, or if it is blocked you may need more treatment.

One choice for treatment is lithotripsy to the shock wave. This procedure uses shock waves to break up the kidney stones into small pieces. After the procedure, the small pieces of the kidney stone will pass through your urinary tract and out of your body with your urine. Typically this procedure takes 40 minutes to one hour and may be done under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep and unable to feel pain.

Another option for treatment is ureteroscopy. This procedure is also conducted under general anesthesia. The doctor uses a long tool shaped like a tube to find and remove the stone or to find and break the stone into small pieces. If the stone is tiny, it can be removed by the doctor. If it is big, it may need to be broken into pieces. In this case, a laser will be used to break the stone into pieces that are small enough to pass through your urinary tract.

In rare cases, surgery is required to remove a kidney stone called percutaneous nephrolithotomy. A tube will be inserted directly into the kidney for removal of the stone during the surgery. You will need to have two to three days in the hospital to recover from this treatment

How can prevent it?

Having enough fluids every day is the best way to avoid most kidney stones. Most people should drink 9 to 13 glasses of fluid a day. Ask your doctor how much fluid you should have every day if you have kidney disease and need to limit fluids. Limiting our diet on sodium and animal protein (meat, eggs) can also help to prevent kidney stones. If your doctor can figure out what your kidney stone is made of, he or she will be able to give you detailed dietary guidelines to help avoid future kidney stones.

If you have a health condition that makes you more likely to have kidney stones, your doctor can advise you to take medicine to treat this condition.

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