Kidney stones are hard masses of crystals. They occur when minerals accumulate in the kidney and other parts of the urinary tract (bladder, ureters, and urethra).
Kidney stones are usually small in size and can easily pass through the urinary tract. However, there are cases where the stones grew to the size of a golf ball. Large kidney stones cause severe pain and discomfort.
Without treatment, the condition may deteriorate and causes kidney damage, kidney infection, and other urinary issues.
Over the years, the number of people with kidney stones in the United States has increased rapidly. A survey from the National Kidney Foundation shows that the number of people that had the condition increased by 10% (from 2013 to 2014). As can be seen from a report from the American Urological Association, over 39 million people in the US will experience kidney stones.
While kidney stones can affect both men and women, studies have shown that it is more prevalent in men.
Types of Kidney Stones
There are 4 types of kidney stones. Below is an overview of each of them.
This is the most common type of kidney stone. Eating foods that are high in oxalates like chocolate, potato chips, and spinach can increase the risk one developing this type of kidney stone.
Studies have shown that it is common in people with urinary tract infections. The stones can grow large and block the urinary tract.
This is a rare type of kidney stone. Research suggests that 1 in 7000 will develop cystine stones. They are common among people suffering from Cystinuria. Cystinuria is a genetic disorder.
This is also a common type of kidney stone. It occurs when one’s urine is too acidic. This increase could be a result of the consumption of purine, a substance found in fish and meat.
People with health conditions like metabolic syndrome, obesity, and gout, are more likely to develop uric acid kidney stones.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Kidney Stones
Below are some symptoms associated with kidney stones.
- Foul-smelling urine
- Pain in the side of the abdomen and the groin
- Presence of blood in the urine
- Frequent urination
- Red, brown, or pink-colored urine
Diagnosis of Kidney Stones
To determine if a patient has kidney stones, a health care practitioner may carry out the following tests.
Imaging test (Ultrasound, MRI, and CT scans)
Imaging tests can help doctors determine if a stone is present in the urinary tract. And if a stone is present, the scan can help unveil its size and location. They may also help doctors ascertain if the stones have affected other organs.
Here your doctor will check for tenderness in the area where the kidney is located.
During this test, a sample of your urine will be collected and tested in a lab. The test can help reveal the presence of chemicals, bacterial, and minerals. A high presence of minerals in the urine is a clear indication of kidney stones.
How to Treat Kidney Stones
After figuring out the type of kidney stone in your urinary tract, your doctor may recommend the following.
Here are some medications your doctor may prescribe to numb the pain associated with the condition and prevent it from deteriorating.
Ibuprofen, Aleve, and Tylenol- These are over-the-counter medications that can help reduce pain.
Thiazide diuretics- This helps to increase urine flow and prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Sodium bicarbonate– This helps to reduce the acidity of the urine.
Allopurinol – Helps to reduce the level of uric acid in the blood.
Your doctor will only recommend a surgical procedure to address the condition when:
- The stones are large
- The pain is intense and cannot be managed
- The stone is causing serious damage to the kidney.
During this procedure, shock waves are used to break down kidney stones. This, thus, will make it easier for patients to pass them out.
How to Manage Kidney Stones
Below are some natural remedies that can help manage the condition. Ensure you consult your doctor before trying any of them.
Lemon is rich in a compound known as citrate. Citrate can help hinder the growth and even break down calcium deposits. A 2019 study found that lemon juice (sugar-free) is an excellent remedy for kidney stones.
Apple Cider Vinegar
A study conducted in 2019 found that individuals who consume vinegar are less likely to develop kidney stones.
- What increases the risk of kidney stones? Below are a few things that may make you more likely to develop kidney stones.
- Drinking a small amount of water
- Not exercising
- Being obese
- Consuming food and drinks that are rich in sugar and salt.
2. When should I contact a doctor? You should seek prompt medical attention if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms.
- Difficulty urinating
- Presence of blood in the urine
- Severe pain accompanied by vomiting, fever, nausea, and chills.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!