Kidney stones can be painful and unpleasant most of the times. But if you know the symptoms to look out for, the prevention, and the kidney stone treatment options, then you will have the edge when it comes to repulsing kidney stones.
The Role of Kidneys
Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located in the back of the torso below the ribs. Kidneys are responsible for maintaining mineral, electrolyte, and fluid balance by removing excess waste and water from the blood and converting it to urine.
They are known for keeping a stable balance of minerals and salts in the blood and if the balance is disturbed, it can lead to severe chronic kidney diseases and other urinary tract problems including kidney stones.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are hard, crystalline minerals formed within the urinary tract or the kidneys. They are made of the toxic chemicals present in the urine. They can be as small as the size of a grain and as big as a golf ball. Kidney stones usually consist of calcium oxalates but can be composed of other components as well.
Urologists states that the stones maintain a sharp crystalline structure while growing. This makes it difficult for the affected to deal with it because there is an immense pain in whatever activity he/she performs.
Usually, they are easy to pass through urine provided they are small. However, if they are big, it becomes difficult to dissolve them. They can block the flow of urine and may also travel to the urethra causing severe complexities.
Kidney stones usually originate in the kidneys but can develop anywhere in the urinary tract such as the urethra, bladder, and ureters. Kidney stones are one of the most painful medical conditions and its cause varies as per to the type of the stone.
Types of Kidney Stones:
The kidney stone treatment will depend on the type of the stone because not all stones are made of the same minerals and crystals. There are four different types of kidney stones, they are;
They are the most common kidney stones affecting humans. They are made of calcium oxalate, maleates, or phosphate. Reducing the consumption of oxalate-rich foods can mitigate the risk of you developing kidney stones.
Foods like chocolates, peanuts, beets, potato chips, etc are high-oxalate foods. So, you can consider limiting certain foods like these.
Uric Acid Stones:
These are the most common kidney stones affecting men. They can also affect those who are suffering from Gout and even those who are undergoing chemotherapy.
Uric acid stones occur when the urine becomes highly acidic. Consuming a diet rich in animal protein can increase your risk of kidney stones as animal protein consists of high levels of purine. Purine is a substance found in animal protein that can enhance the acid level of your urine.
These are the most common kidney stones affecting women suffering from urinary tract infections. The struvite stones are generally large and cause immense pain and urinary obstruction. They are formed as a result of kidney infection and hence, can be prevented by treating the infection.
Cystine stones rarely occur but can affect both men and women. Cystine stones develop in those who have cystinuria – a genetic disorder. It occurs when cystine, a naturally occurring acid in the body leaks into the urine from the kidneys.
Kidney Stone Symptoms:
Kidney stones can affect anyone including children. Therefore, it is important to know the symptoms of this common condition. The signs and symptoms of kidney stones may include:
- Fever and chills
- Stomach pain followed by nausea
- Cloudy urine
- Pain while urinating
- Blood in urine
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Pain in the abdomen and back
Risk Factors Leading to Kidney Stone formation
An individual is likely to develop kidney stones when he/she is between 20-50 years of age. Conditions like kidney cysts, chronic diarrhea, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure might increase the risk of kidney stones. 25% of the kidney stone patients are those having a family history with this disease.
Preventive Measures for Kidney Stones
Prevention is better than cure and instead of looking for kidney stone removal techniques you can simply prevent it happening in the first place. Here are some ways using which you can prevent kidney stones from forming. Staying hydrated all the time is important for preventing kidney stones of all types. When you drink lots of water and healthy juices, it will help in keeping your urine diluted. Drink enough liquid (recommended - WATER) in a day so that your urine turns light colored. If your urine is dark colored, it means that your body is dehydrated.
Recommended Reading: 5 keys to removing the risk of kidney stone
Find the Cause:
If you suffered from kidney stones before, the chances are you will develop them again. But if you look back and find the cause of kidney stones then you can easily prevent it from happening again.
Consider Low-Animal-Protein and Low-Sodium Diet:
The more animal protein and sodium you consume the more will be the chance of you developing kidney stones. The salts can accumulate in your urinary tract or kidneys and form crystalline components.
Get your Vitamins:
According to the urologists, vitamins play a crucial role in lowering the risk of the formation of kidney stones. Probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B6 supplements have been shown to mitigate the risk of kidney stone formation. However, avoid too much consumption of Vitamin C supplements as they may increase the risk of stone formation.
Kidney Stone Treatment:
In case, if you are already diagnosed with kidney stones then don’t worry, there are several home remedies and medical interventions for treating them.
You can easily pass small kidney stones using natural home remedies. Drink plenty of liquid daily; you can also fill up on lemon juice to dissolve kidney stones.
However, if the stones are large, then you will require medical attention. Kidney stone laser treatment like Ureteroscopy is a viable option for treating large kidney stones. On the other hand, lithotripsy is another treatment option where the stones are broken down into small pieces using shock waves.