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Common signs of Kidney Stones and its prevention

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Children are funny creatures with strange interests. They like playing in mud or eating dirt. We are all guilty of falling for these games at some point in time. As little kids, we were told that our bellies will fill with stones if we eat impurities. Apparently, this make-believe story has an aspect of real life. Kidney stones are tiny rock-like objects that get collected in the kidneys. 

The development of kidney stones is a very common condition. Nearly 1 out of every 10 individuals are affected by signs of kidney stones. This article explores kidney stones symptoms, signs and prevention in detail. 

Dr. Mohit Khirbat, a leading nephrologist in Gurgaon, provides his insights on how to prevent kidney stones naturally. 

Kidney stones symptoms 

Kidney stones are crystal-like substances that form inside the kidneys. They develop in varying sizes and shapes and range from minuscule like a grain of salt to large stones like a chickpea. They are made up of small substances that are usually found in urine. 

Kidney stone prevention can be done without medical intervention also. However, it is necessary to first acknowledge its signs and symptoms. 

Some stones are microscopic in mass. Due to this aspect, the symptoms usually go unnoticed. However, even these mini objects can expand later. They may also move within the organ causing pain and discomfort. Therefore, it is important to learn about the symptoms of kidney stones. 

Here is a list of the most common sign and symptoms of kidney stones:

  • Pain at the side of the stomach – This is one of the most prominent early signs of kidney stones. Usually, it starts out as a dull ache that comes and goes. Nonetheless, it may remain consistent or become unbearable as time passes. 
  • Pain in the lower back, lower abdomen or groin – A similar form of dull pain may arise in the lower back and abdomen area time and again. An equal intensity of pain can also be felt near the groin.
  • Nausea and Vomiting – Patients living with kidney stone symptoms may experience recurrent events of nausea and vomiting. Generally, this sensation of vomiting is felt along with pain at the side of the tummy. 
  • Change in colour of urine – If kidney stones are there, they can be watched out by how the colour of urine changes. Typically, the urine colour may change to pink, red or brown. 
  • Pain during urination – One of the early signs includes painful urination. It is also observed that patients experience a burning sensation while urinating. 
  • Increased frequency in passing urine – Kidney stones significantly increase the number of times a person urinates. 

Apart from the above-given symptoms, the following are also signs of kidney stones-

  • Foul smell during urination
  • Difficulty in passing urine
  • Fever (in case of infection)

It is advised that you seek immediate medical help, if:

  • You see blood in the urine 
  • You have episodes of shivering/shaking
  • You have an extremely high temperature

Kidney stone pain is located at the lower abdomen or groin, along one side of your body and below the ribs. 

How are kidney stones formed?

There is no exact cause of kidney stones. It is known that certain substances in your urine lead to the production of kidney stones. The various types of kidney stones determine their individual causes.

Kidney-stone-diagram-and-other-body-components-related-to-it

While kidney stones can develop in anyone, some people are at a greater risk than others. 

Risk factors of kidney stones include:

  • Family history 
  • Personal history 
  • Excessive dehydration 
  • Certain diets 
  • Obesity 
  • Digestive diseases
  • Previous surgery 
  • Underlying medical conditions 
  • Certain supplements and medications 

Read: Kidney transplant during the COVID pandemic

How to prevent kidney stones naturally

The strategy that ‘prevention is better than cure’ applies to kidney stones as well. In fact, kidney stone prevention is rather a matter of lifestyle changes. According to nephrology experts, here are some ways you can avoid kidney stones.

  • Drink plenty of water – It is true that water is the best remedy for numerous diseases. However, in the case of kidney stones, water is like a power element. You should aim to drink about 8 bottles of water each day. The objective is to pass nearly 2 ounces of water on a daily basis. Drinking plentiful water allows for micro stones to pass through urine. You may also choose to drink other healthy fluids. These choices consist of energy drinks, healthy soups, juices etc. But water is the foremost choice. 
  • Decrease the intake of sodium – Higher levels of sodium are responsible for more calcium in the urine. This ratio can lead to the development of kidney stones. In order to prevent these stones, you should aim to reduce sodium in your diet. You should take low levels of salt in your meals. 
  • Restrict your consumption of animal protein – Animal meats like red meats, poultry, eggs, seafood and more can increase the amount of uric acid in your body. This acid can further cause the formation of renal stones. You should restrict your animal protein intake to moderate. 
  • Avoid eating oxalate-rich foods – Oxalate is a substance that is directly accountable for kidney stones. If you have a higher chance of getting affected by this condition, do not consume these food items. Stone-forming food products include spinach, tea, chocolate, beets, rhubarb, sweet potatoes, black pepper and more. 
  • Maintain a healthy body weight – Your body weight will also alter your health conditions. If you want to stay clear of kidney stones, make sure you are not overweight. In case you weigh more than what is suggested as per your Body Mass Index (BMI), you should adopt a lifestyle that focuses on weight loss. You should regularly participate in physical activity and eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Eat calcium-rich foods – Calcium intake causes oxalate reduction in your body. However, your calcium intake should be adequate and not excessive. 

Prevention using medication

As mentioned earlier, kidney stones are not always diagnosed unless they cause health issues. Sometimes, patients live with small-scale stones for years without knowing. Therefore, the diagnosis is often delayed. The patient is informed about the condition after it has progressed. In such cases, both treatment and prevention can be offered to get the desired clinical results. 

Prevention of kidney stones with the use of medicines depends on various factors. There are distinct types of kidney stones. For instance, calcium stones, uric acid stones, cystine stones, struvite stones and more. Doctors prescribe medications for condition-specific issues. 

The concluding note

Kidney stones are not a modern disease. As preventive healthcare is gaining popularity, protection has become the key aspect. However, we cannot focus on preventing a condition unless we recognise its existence first. Thereby, a basic understanding of kidney stone symptoms is a must. 

Afterwards, a focus on prevention is chief to avoiding kidney stones. A healthy way of living that includes sufficient hydration, a nutritious diet and exercise is the ultimate solution. For information or personalized guidance, you can book an appointment with Dr. Mohit Khirbat at CK Birla Hospital.