Kidney stones are hard deposits of salts and minerals that form in the kidneys. The types of kidney stones are calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite and cystine. Kidney stones are also known as renal calculi, urolithiasis or nephrolithiasis. Kidney stones can affect any parts of the urinary tract – kidneys, ureter or urinary bladder. If identified at early stages, the condition can be treated very easily by drinking plenty of water to pass the kidney stones. This condition usually does not cause any permanent damage.
Kidney filters out waste materials from the blood and forms urine and hence urine has waste materials dissolved in it. When the amount of waste materials are high compared to the amount of water present or if liquid content is too little, the waste materials crystallises to form kidney stones. Other elements such as minerals get attached to the crystals and form a larger solid until it is passed out of the body. The possible causes of this condition includes:
- Drinking too little or inadequate amounts of water
- Eating foods with excess sugar or salt content
- Family history
- Obesity and/or weight loss surgery
- Certain infections
- Excess or too little exercise
- Severe pain on either side of abdominal and lower back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood in urine
- Smelly or cloudy urine
- Fever and chills
- Pain while urinating
- Urinating more often
Diagnostic procedures for kidney stones include:
- Medical history
- Physical examination
- Imaging tests
- KUB X-ray (kidney- ureter-bladder x-ray)
- CT Scan -Computerised tomography
- IVP-Intravenous pyelogram
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Analysis of passed stones
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Reduce excess salt in your diet
- Maintain normal weight
- Eat calcium rich foods
- Take foods with lesser oxalate content.
Treatment for kidney stones vary depending on the size, type and cause.
- Small kidney stones can be removed by drinking plenty of water
- Medications may be given to relieve pain, discomfort and to relax muscles in the ureter to pass the stones
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy or nephrolithotripsy is the surgical removal of large stones. Surgery may be recommended if the kidney stone is too large or if there is any infection.
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is a procedure in which strong vibrations are used to break the stones so that it can be passed out easily through the urine.
- Ureteroscopy is a procedure in which an endoscopy is inserted through the ureter to retrieve or break the stones.
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