Kidney Stones: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Diet
Kidney stones are hard masses that form in the kidney. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Kidney stones usually form when there is too much of certain substances in the urine, such as calcium and oxalate. Sometimes, the body does not get rid of these substances fast enough. Other times, these substances may not be passed out of the body at all.
Kidney stones are hard deposits that form in the kidneys and can be painful. If a stone moves from the kidney to the ureter, it is called an “urinary stone.” This is because it travels to the bladder, which is also called the “ureter.”
The majority of people with kidney stones will have one episode and never experience another one again.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are hard deposits that form in the kidney. Kidney stones are a result of the build-up of minerals and salts in the urinary tract. They can be as small as a grain of sand or they can grow to be as large as a golf ball.
Kidney stones are formed when urine becomes highly concentrated with calcium, oxalate, or uric acid. The concentration of these substances causes crystals to form which then turn into kidney stones. They can also cause blood to appear in the urine.
There are two main types of kidney stones: calcium oxalate and uric acid.
- Calcium oxalate stones: They are the most common type of kidney stone. They’re usually made up of calcium and oxalate, which is a chemical found in many foods. Calcium oxalate stones can form from normal urine that has high levels of calcium or from urine that has high levels of oxalates. The body absorbs too much calcium or not enough citrate, a chemical that helps prevent the formation of some types of kidney stones.
- Uric acid stones: This type of stones are less common than calcium oxalate stones and often form when the urine contains too much uric acid or not enough citrate to break down uric acid into other substances. Uric acid is a waste product created when cells break down purines, which are found in certain foods like anchovies, asparagus, bacon, sardines, and liver.
The symptoms of kidney stones can range from mild to severe. The symptoms that someone might experience if they have kidney stones include:
- Pain in the back
- Blood in urine
- Trouble urinating and
- More frequent urination than usual
Kidney stones form when certain substances in the urine crystallize and bind together. These substances are usually calcium, oxalates, or uric acid. The kidneys filter out these substances from the blood to produce urine. Uric acid is a waste product of protein metabolism that is excreted by the liver into the bloodstream. It combines with other compounds to form crystals that can cause kidney stones if they’re not eliminated from the body in time.
The causes of kidney stones include:
- Consuming too much protein
- Consuming too much calcium
- Chronic urinary tract infection (UTI)
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Genetic factors
The diagnosis of kidney stones is a process that is done in four steps.
- The first step is to take an abdominal X-ray. It can identify if the kidney stone has passed into the bladder or not.
- The second step is to take a urine sample and check for traces of blood or infection.
- The third step is to take an intravenous pyelogram (IVP) which involves injecting a dye into the vein and taking X-rays from different angles. This helps in identifying any blockages in the urinary tract.
- The fourth and final step is to perform a cystoscopy, where an instrument called cystoscope is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder to get images of any stones present inside it.
There is currently no cure for kidney stones but there are many treatments available to help patients manage their symptoms and prevent them from recurring. There are many different types of treatments for kidney stones.
If kidney stones blocking urine flow from your kidneys to your bladder this happens then surgery may be needed to remove the stone. A small stone may pass on its own without any treatment. However large stones or stones that enter the ureter or bladder will require surgery to remove them.
Surgery is one way to treat kidney stones but it is not always successful and can be expensive and risky. Shockwave lithotripsy is another option but it can take months before there’s any relief from pain because it takes time to break up the stones with sound waves.
Drug and Medication
The kidney stones are typically composed of calcium and oxalate. They may also include phosphate, urate, cystine, or other substances. There are many drugs and medications that can be used to treat kidney stones.
- A drug called Lithium Carbonate is used to dissolve kidney stones in the body. This drug also helps with some other medical conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. However, this medication can cause stomach upset and nausea as side effects.
- Another drug called Amiloride is used to prevent kidney stones from forming in the kidneys or urinary tract. This medication is taken once a day and it has no serious side effects.
Other drugs and medicines used to manage the symptoms of kidney stones:
- Pain relief medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin or doxycycline
A diet for kidney stones is a diet that helps to prevent and reduce the risk of kidney stones. It is important to know that not all kidney stone diets are created equal. Some diets may be very restrictive while others may not be.
To find out which diet is best for you, you should consult your doctor/dietician and have them review your medical history, lifestyle habits, and any current medications. Your doctor/dietician can then recommend the best possible diet for you based on these factors.
Tips for a kidney stone diet:
Having kidney stones increases your risk of getting them again. This can be prevented by taking the medications your doctor prescribed you, and making sure you stay hydrated in order to prevent dehydration.
Your doctor may give you a diet plan, based on factors such as what type of stones you have. Some tips to help are:
- Eat citrus fruits, such as orange
- Eat a calcium-rich food at each meal, at least three times a day
- Eat less salt, added sugar
- Limit consuming products containing high fructose corn syrup
- Drink at least twelve glasses of water daily
- Limit your intake of animal protein
- Avoid foods and drinks high in oxalates and phosphates
- Avoid eating or drinking anything which dehydrates you, such as alcohol
It is important to keep a record of the diet and to be careful with the amount of fluid intake. Although it is impossible to know what will cause kidney stones, one should start gradually changing their diet in order not to upset the balance. It is also important for them to drink plenty of fluids in order maintain hydration levels. A diet high in protein and low in oxalates may help prevent kidney stones from forming, but it does not necessarily guarantee that they won’t form.
Kidney stones are a common health problem. They are small, hard pieces of material that form in the kidneys. Kidney stones are most common in people who have had them before, especially if they have had them more than once. They are also more common in people who drink large amounts of alcohol or consume diets high in animal protein, salt, or sugar.
If you have symptoms of pain in your lower back, groin, or side then you should see your doctor as soon as possible because this may mean that you have a kidney stone blocking urine flow from your kidneys to your bladder.
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