Things you need to know
- Kidney stones are hardened deposits of certain chemicals that collect inside your kidneys.
- Kidney stones vary in size and numbers and can affect any individual irrespective of age and gender.
- The protocols for kidney stones treatment depend on factors like patient’s age, overall health and size, and the number of stones.
Kidney stones, also known as renal calculi, are crystals of certain minerals and salts that form and deposit in your kidneys.
Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs responsible for filtering and removing extra waste and fluids from your body. Kidney stones form when there are high levels of waste in your urine which does not get filtered out. These minerals become concentrated and attract other elements to join and crystalise.
Kidney stones can occur in any part of the urinary tract. There are four types of kidney stones – calcium stones, uric acid stones, struvite stones and cystine stones.
Kidney stones symptoms
Kidney stones symptoms are unique for each individual. Your symptoms largely depend upon the size and number of stones. The signs and symptoms usually occur when the stones move around in the kidneys or pass into your ureters.
Common kidney stones symptoms include:
- Sharp pain at the side and back
- Pain radiating to the lower abdomen and groin
- Sudden pain that comes in waves
- Pain and burning sensation while urinating
- Cloudy and foul-smelling urine
- Coloured urine
- An increased urge to urinate
- Nausea and vomiting
What causes kidney stones
There is no single reason behind the formation of kidney stones. Several factors can contribute. Kidney stones usually develop as a result of excessive levels of minerals and salts in your urine. These components become concentrated and crystallise to form stones.
Different types of kidney stones has different causes:
Calcium stones – Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stones. They occur due to the presence of calcium oxalate (a substance produced by your liver everyday). Several factors such as high doses of vitamin D, dietary changes and metabolic disorders can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate in your urine leading to kidney stones.
Uric acid stones – Uric acid stones mostly occur in individuals who lose excess fluid due to chronic diarrhea. A high-protein diet inclusive of organ meats and shellfish can also lead to the formation of these stones.
Struvite stones –Struvite stones occur as a result of infections in the upper urinary tract.
Cystine stones – Cystine stones are a result of hereditary genetic diseases.
Kidney stones risk factors
While kidney stones can occur in any individual, some people are more prone to developing these stones than others. Risk factors of kidney stones include:
- Family or personal history of the disease
- Excessive or frequent hydration
- Eating a high-protein diet
- Being overweight or obese
- Digestive diseases
- History of surgeries
- Certain medications
Kidney stones treatment
Kidney stones treatment depend upon the severity of your symptoms, size and number of stones, your age and overall health. Common treatment protocols include:
- Flushing out small stones by drinking plenty of water
- LASER treatment to break down and remove stones
- Ureteroscopy to remove stones
- Surgical removal of large stones
The tests and procedures done to diagnose kidney stones include blood test, urine test, imaging tests such as X-ray and CT scan and lab analysis of passed stones.
If left untreated, kidney stones can lead to kidney infections, severe pain, hematuria and loss of kidney function.
You can prevent kidney stones by staying hydrated, eating low quantities of oxalate-rich foods and eating a diet low in salt and rich in calcium.