Kidney stones are a fairly common medical predicament that affects both men and women. Recent statistics would suggest that it is more prevalent among men than women with it affecting three out of 20 men and two out of 20 women. Here are some facts about nephrolithiasis, its official medical name, and more information regarding effective kidney stones treatment.
What causes it
Before delving into kidney stones treatment, understanding the cause is the first step towards preventing this condition. Kidney stones are primarily caused by chemical sediments that stay in the body and crystallize over time. These sediments are usually made up by the following:
- Uric acid
Apart from chemical build-up, another cause is not drinking enough water in a day. The ideal number is 8 to 10 glasses a day so keep that in mind if you do not want to experience renal colic, a type of kidney stones condition that induces severe pain for the patient.
There are also certain medical conditions and genetic predispositions that make one person more susceptible to kidney stone formation than others. If any of your family members had bouts with kidney stones, you have to be even more vigilant so that you limit the probability of developing this condition.
Types of Stones
There are four main types of stones that are differentiated by the size, shape, color, and even texture. These include:
- Calcium stones. Most common type that are hard and more resistant to fragmentation.
- Cystine stones. Yellowish with a crystal-like appearance
- Struvite stones. Horn-shape appearance, bigger than the others, is made up of ammonia and magnesium.
- Uric acid stones. Smooth and soft.
If they are really small, kidney stones are undetectable and do not cause any problems at all since they get expelled during urination. However, in the event that it pases through the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder called the ureter, when it sticks to the kidney, or when it triggers an infection, this is the time when kidney stones manifests symptoms and would need immediate kidney stones treatment. Here are some of the symptoms of nephrolithiasis:
- Dysuria (a sharp, dull pain when you urinate)
- Haematuria (presence of blood in your urine)
- Intense pain in the back, groin area, lower back, and for men, their testicles and scrotum
- Frequent urination (more than six to seven times a day but this should be in conjunction with other symptoms)
If an infection sets in, the symptoms worsen. It would now encompass fever, body malaise, diarrhea, foul smell in the urine, cloudy appearance of urine, and chills.
When to see a doctor
You should seek proper diagnosis to gain access to accurate kidney stones treatment if you are already experiencing the following:
- Severe pain with fever, nausea, or restlessness
The main thing is to prevent this condition from ever happening. You can do this by keeping your urine diluted. Diluted urine means lesser chance of chemical build-up. The darker the color of your urine, the more concentrated your urine is so you need to increase your water intake and decrease other kinds of fluids that could cause such concentration.
Water, of course, should be your best friend. Taking eight to ten glasses in a day is the most ideal. While juice and tea can also augment fluid intake, nothing beats good, old H2O. Limit intake of carbonated and alcoholic drink. Hydrate even more during hot days or when you are doing strenuous activities.
You might also want to check with a nutritionist or your physician regarding your diet. There might some food that you have decrease intake to keep kidney stone formation at bay. For example, if you want to prevent calcium stones from forming, you might have to cut down on chocolates, asparagus, grains, almonds, soy products, and even berries. Calcium is still essential to the body so you cannot get rid of it altogether. Your doctor or a nutritionist can help you design a plan where you get sufficient calcium without having to deal with calcium stones formation.
For uric acid stones, it is best to limit intake of protein-rich foods like fish, poultry, and meat.
Kidney stone treatment
Of course, the first thing is to get proper diagnosis from a trusted health practitioner. He/She can tell you what type of kidney stones you have and how to expel them. For simpler cases, you can gain access to medication that spurs the expelling process while treating other symptoms which include dizziness and persistent pain.
However, when things turn for the worse, you will have to be admitted to the hospital. These are the conditions where hospital admission is no longer negotiable:
- Over 60 years old
- Possibility of kidney failing
- Severe, persistent pain
- Recurrence of symptoms even after medication has been administered
Here are some forms of kidney stones treatment of large kidney stones:
- Ureteroscopy. Surgeon pushes the stone down the ureter with the aid of a long thin telescope. This is done under general anaesthetic.
- Open surgery. Only used for abnormally large kidney stones which, thankfully, do not happen too often.
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). Breaking down of kidney stones via ultrasound shock waves. Patient would require more than one session for complete expelling of kidney stones.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL). Pulling out or breaking of kidney stones using a nephroscope which is inserted via your back and reaches into your kidney. This is done under general anaesthesia as well.
For uric acid stones, increase of fluid intake is the best way to go. You might be advised to drink as much as three liters of water per day.
Kidney stones, while painful, can be treated after proper diagnosis. Kidney stones treatment, if accurate, can get rid of this condition once and for all. If you experience any of the symptoms as mentioned earlier especially if they are persistent and severe, seek medical attention immediately.