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In India, almost 12% of the total population is affected by kidney stones. Among them, nearly half of the cases result in renal damage that puts patients at risk of losing a kidney . As per a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Urology, males are more prone to developing urinary stones than females . A surprising fact about this disease is that even children can get affected, with the median age being 14.8 years .
Here’s a quick glance at the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, medications and complications of kidney stones:
|Symptoms||Experiencing severe pain in the abdomen or lower back, nausea, blood in urine, etc.|
|Complications||Urinary tract infection, damage to the ureter, blockage of the ureter due to stone fragments, sepsis, etc.|
|Causes||Environmental factors, genetic reasons|
|Onset||A few weeks or months|
|Diagnosis||Depending upon symptoms, urine tests, medical imaging, etc.|
|Prevention||Drink lots of fluids to ensure that more than 2 litres of urine are produced per day, reduce salt & meat in your diet, etc.|
|Medication||Painkillers, ureteroscopy, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, percutaneous nephrolithotomy, etc.|
Take a deep dive into what causes kidney stones, how to treat it and other important details. Read on!
Kidney stones symptoms include:
In the case of small kidney stones, individuals would not experience any symptoms. The stones may pass out of the body painlessly during urination.
However, in severe cases, the kidney stone may be large enough to block the ureter. Under such circumstances, the body’s waste products are unable to pass this blockage, resulting in bacteria build-up. This, in turn, causes kidney infections, and individuals may experience symptoms like diarrhoea, tiredness, high body temperature, cloudy and foul-smelling urine, chills, shivering, etc. .
Kidney stones can occur in an individual’s body due to several reasons:
Apart from these causes, certain medical conditions like diarrhoea, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative colitis, gastric bypass surgery, etc., can cause huge amounts of fluid loss from the body.
Under such circumstances, an individual’s urine output will become low and excessive amounts of oxalates may be absorbed from the intestines. This combination of high oxalate levels and low urine volume can result in the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones .
Moreover, there are certain medicines which can trigger kidney stone development. Apart from this, people who take Vitamin C and Calcium supplements and those suffering from obesity also have higher chances of developing urinary stones .
There are mainly three types of kidney stones :
This is the most commonly occurring type of kidney stones. Almost 80% of cases belong to this category.  It occurs when calcium mixes with the oxalate in urine. It generally occurs due to inadequate fluid and calcium intake; however, there are several other things that can trigger this disease.
Approximately 5 to 10% of kidney stone cases are due to uric acid . This condition generally occurs when people have high levels of purine in their blood.
Purine is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is present in high concentrations in shellfish, organ meats, etc. When there are high levels of purine in a person’s diet, it increases monosodium urate production within the body, which under specific conditions, leads to the formation of kidney stones .
In addition, this medical condition can also occur due to gout, chronic diarrhoea, being overweight, high blood sugar, a family medical history of uric acid stones, etc .
Struvite is an uncommon type of kidney stone that is detected in only 10% of cases . It is generally seen in individuals who suffer from chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs). In this case, a certain kind of bacteria makes the urine more alkaline or basic.
This leads to the formation of Magnesium ammonium phosphate or struvite stones. These stones are usually large and have branches. Moreover, they also grow very fast.
Individuals who cannot empty their bladder properly due to neurological disorders are at the highest risk of being affected by this disease. These disorders include spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and paralysis.
People with long-term tubes in their bladders or kidneys also have a high chance of contracting this disease.
Apart from these types, there are also instances of cystine stones. It is seen in less than 1% of cases as an inherited metabolic disorder . In this condition, the kidneys fail to reabsorb cystine from the urine, leading to its high concentrations and the formation of stones. Furthermore, in most cases, these stones start forming in childhood.
In some cases, kidney stones can be recurring. The chances of this condition are higher in people who are bedridden or inactive. Furthermore, people with a high-protein low-fibre diet, UTIs, a family medical history of kidney stones or have had this disease in the past can suffer from it multiple times in their lives.
In case of kidney stones, you can only feel their presence when they pass through the urinary tract. If you notice the above-mentioned signs, you should consider scheduling an appointment with a kidney specialist.
Moreover, if you experience severe abdominal pain, blood in the urine, difficulty in urination, fever, vomiting, etc., it is crucial for you to seek immediate professional medical attention .
For kidney stones diagnosis, the following tests are conducted:
This test consists of an analysis of your urine sample. It helps determine whether there is blood or any other mineral in your urine that can lead to the formation of urinary stones. Moreover, this test also helps check for bacteria and white blood cells that help determine whether you have a urinary tract infection.
The physician collects a blood sample from your body to check the presence of certain minerals that can cause kidney stones.
Depending on your condition, the doctor may also recommend an abdominal x-ray. In this case, low levels of radiation are used to check the position of kidney stones in your urinary tract. However, not all types of stones are visible in this test.
A CT scan comes in handy when medical professionals want to create images of an individual’s urinary tract. This helps them determine various things like the size and location of kidney stones, whether they are blocking the urinary tract and also the conditions that may have led to their development.
During times when an individual has to immediately visit a hospital for pain due to kidney stones, a CT scan is generally conducted. This is the protocol followed in the case of adults.
If the person is a pregnant woman or an individual below 16 years of age, the physician may conduct an ultrasound scan. In case the health care provider cannot find anything using this test, they recommend a non-contrast CT scan .
The prognosis for people suffering from kidney stones is as follows:
Thus, it is highly crucial that you opt for medical attention if you notice any of the above symptoms. Proper treatment, without delay, will ensure that the stones exit from your body without any lasting damage.
Depending on your condition, the healthcare provider may prescribe the following medications to treat kidney stones :
In case of small stones, doctors can advise you to drink a minimum of 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. This will help produce large quantities of urine per day, thereby helping the stone to pass.
However, there can be circumstances when the kidney stone is too big to pass on its own. It may be in a growing stage, thereby reducing urine flow and increasing the chances of infection and damage. Under such circumstances, the doctor may recommend surgery to prevent further complications.
Nowadays, there are less invasive options available, like Lithotripsy and Ureteroscopy. Only in rare cases may the physician go for open surgery or nephrolithotomy.
Some steps that you can follow for kidney stones prevention are :
Every individual suffering from kidney stones has a different scenario. Thus, there is no standard diet for preventing its future recurrence. What you can do is stringently follow the dietary changes advised by your healthcare professional.
Moreover, you can also make sure that you are consuming healthy levels of calcium. You can do this by including calcium-rich supplements in your diet and consulting your doctor on whether you need supplements.
People suffering from kidney stones may experience the following complications:
Therefore, a delay in kidney stone treatment can lead to unnecessary complications. Moreover, if an individual has a kidney stone, there is a 50% chance of developing a second stone in case of treatment delay.  In certain cases, this stone can also migrate from the kidney to the bladder, thus resulting in infection and contamination.
Kidney stones are a treatable disease that can occur due to poor dietary choices and sometimes hereditarily. Timely detection of its symptoms and opting for proper medical treatment is the best way to ensure that there are no complications down the line.
However, given the high costs of treating this disease at private hospitals, it is always a good idea to purchase a health insurance policy. Doing so provides you with adequate financial coverage allowing you to opt for proper medical treatment.
If you are looking for a health insurance plan, get Navi Health Insurance. Avail of cashless treatment in 10,000+ network hospitals, unlimited online consultations, free annual health check-ups and more with premiums starting at just ₹234/month. Get a quote now!
Stress along with chronic dehydration could lead to the formation of urinary stones. High blood pressure and high sugar levels may affect the heart and kidneys. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this hypothesis.
A kidney stone can remain in a person’s body for weeks or even up to several years without causing any symptoms. It may eventually pass out of the body through urine. Else, it may cause pain and block urine flow in case it grows in size.
If an individual experiences excessive pain, making him/her unable to sit in a comfortable position, it is an indication of a serious kidney stone problem. In addition, this symptom is accompanied by fever, chills and vomiting.
One can use dietary vinegar for rapidly dissolving kidney stones. They contain phosphoric, acetic and citric acids that make urine acidic, thus helping the stones dissolve.
Yes, pain in the abdominal area is a sign in some people suffering from kidney stones. It may also be accompanied by pieces of stone and blood in the urine.
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