Kidney stones or nephrolithiasis refers to a crystalline mineral deposit formed in the kidney(s). These are usually formed because of a reduced production of urine or an increased deposit of minerals in the kidneys.
Causes and Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are formed due to an imbalance of salts, water and electrolytes in the urine. Calcium-heavy stones are the most common and may be easily flushed out with the urine. Long-term deposits may result in larger stones that may remain in the kidneys and cause issues with the passage of urine and an eventual swelling in the kidney.
Factors that can lead to the formation of kidney stones include:
People living in hot tropical climates are more prone to kidney stones than those in temperate regions. Dehydration and increased sweating could result in the continuous sedimentation of minerals, leading to kidney stones.
Diet and Supplements:
A diet rich in animal protein and salt may cause the development of kidney stones.
Gout, bowel disorders, hypertension, diabetes and Crohn’s disease may increase the risk for kidney stones.
Hereditary nephrolithiasis is rare; however, studies have demonstrated that children of individuals with hypercalciuria tend to develop kidney stones.
Though the stones are formed in the kidneys, they move to the urinary tract, resulting in intense pain and uneasiness. The symptoms are rarely apparent in the beginning but can intensify as the stones grow.
Common symptoms of kidney stones include:
- Waves of intense pain in the lower abdomen
- Spasms and muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hematuria (presence of blood in the urine)
- Painful urination
Treatment Strategies for Kidney Stones
While some medicines might reduce symptoms like intense pain, others might help with the removal of the stones itself. Common strategies used include:
Intravenous Fluid Injections:
This may help improve hydration and provide relief from the pain caused by the obstruction in the urinary tract and swelling in the kidneys.
Toradol, Phenergan and Zofran may be effective in alleviating pain associated with the stones.
Shock Wave Therapy:
The procedure helps with the removal of kidney stones and works by breaking larger stones down for easy removal.
Used in more chronic cases, especially when the stone is not accessible by shock wave therapy, the process involves the placement of a stent to bypass the stone.
Complications Associated With Kidney Stones
Some individuals develop an infection because of the obstruction in the urinary tract, resulting in the development of an abscess. High fever, stomach ache and intense colic are some of the features that point to the presence of kidney stones.
In people with only one kidney, any obstruction in the urinary tract can be detrimental and should be diagnosed as early as possible.
Lifestyle and diet modifications are often recommended in order to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Proper hydration and a lower intake of salt could help minimize the risk of kidney stones.
Kidney stones are a common occurrence, especially in hotter climates, but can be treated effectively with the right medications and dietary changes.
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