What are Kidney Stones?
Urine contains many dissolved minerals and salts. Stones may be formed when urine has high levels of these minerals and salts.
Kidney stones initially start small and not cause any issues at first. However, they can grow larger in size. Some stones may even stay in the kidney, and will never cause any problems. Kidney stones can travel down the ureter sometimes. (The ureter is the tube
between the kidney and the bladder.) If the stone reaches the bladder, it can be passed out of the body through urine. If the stone becomes stuck in the ureter, it blocks urine flow and this may be painful.
The Kidneys and Urinary System
The kidneys are organs that handle the body’s fluid and chemical levels. Healthy kidneys clean waste from the blood and remove it in the urine. When your kidneys are healthy and properly control the levels of sodium, potassium, and calcium in the blood. The kidneys, ureters, and bladder are part of your urinary tract. The urinary tract makes moves and stores urine in the body. The urine then travels down the ureters into the bladder, where it is stored. Urine exits the body through your urethra.
Kidney stones form in the kidney. If a stone leaves the kidney and gets stuck in the ureter, it is known as a ureteral stone.
What are Kidney Stones Made of?
Kidney stones are present in many different types. The method your kidney stones will be treated depends on what type of stone you have.
Calcium stones (80% of stones)
These are the most common type of kidney stones. There are two types of calcium stones:
calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate Calcium oxalate is the most common type of calcium stone. Some people have high calcium in their urine, raising their risk of calcium stones. Even with normal calcium levels in the urine, calcium stones may form for other reasons.
Uric acid stones (5-10 % of stones)
Uric acid is a waste product that forms because of the chemical changes in the body. Uric acid crystals do not dissolve in acidic urine. This causes a uric acid stone. Having acidic urine may come from:
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Type 2 diabetes (increased blood sugar)
A diet that is high in animal protein and low in fruits and vegetables
Struvite/infection stones (10 percent of stones)
Struvite stones are uncommon. These stones may cause chronic urinary tract infections. People who get chronic UTIs, or people with poor bladder emptying due to neurologic disorders are at the highest risk for developing these stones.
Cystine Stones (Less than 1 percent of stones)
Cystine is an amino acid that is in certain foods. Too much cystine in the urine is a rare and inherited metabolic disorder. When high amounts of cystine are present in the urine, it causes stones to form. Cystine stones often
starts to form in childhood.
Common symptoms of kidney stones include cramping pain in the back and side. This feeling often moves to the lower abdomen or groin. This pain often starts suddenly and forms waves. It can come and go as the body tries to get rid of the stone.
Other signs of kidney stones include:
- Intense need to urinate.
- Urinating more often
- Dark urine or red due to blood.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Pain at the tip of the penis in men.
Low Urine Volume
Constantly having a low urine quantity is a major risk factor for kidney stones. Low urine may come from dehydration (loss of body fluids) from hard exercise, living in a hot place, or not drinking enough fluids. When your urine volume is less, urine is concentrated and dark in colour.
Adults who form stones should drink enough fluid to make at least 2.5 liters of urine every day. This means you should drink about 3 litres of fluid everyday. Water is generally the best to drink for preventing stone.
What you eat matters when it comes to forming kidney stones. One of the most common causes of calcium kidney stones is high levels of calcium in the urine.
High calcium level in urine may be due to the way your body handles calcium.
Lowering the amount of calcium in your diet does not stops stones from forming. Doctors usually do not suggest to limit dietary calcium in order to lower urine calcium. However, the amount of calcium you consume should not be very high.
Inspite of lowering dietary calcium intake, your doctor may try to reduce your urine calcium level. Having too much salt in your diet is a risk factor.
Reducing salt in the diet lowers urine calcium. This will make it less likely for you to form stones. Because oxalate is a component of the most common type of kidney stone (calcium oxalate), eating foods rich in oxalate can increase your risk of forming these stones.
A high animal protein diet, such as beef, fish, chicken, and pork, can raise the acid levels in the body. High acid levels easily make calcium oxalate and uric acid stones.
Diarrhea results in the loss of large amounts of fluid from the body, lowering urine volume. Both low urine volume and high levels of oxalate can help to cause calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.
Obesity is a risk factor for stones. Obesity may alter the acid levels in the urine, leading to stone formation.
Some medical conditions impose an increased risk of kidney stones. Abnormal growth of the parathyroid glands, which control calcium metabolism, can cause high calcium levels in the blood and urine. This can lead to kidney stones. Distal renal tubular acidosis, in which there is more acid build-up in the body, can raise the risk.
The chance of having kidney stones is much higher if you have a family that has a history of stones.
Silent kidney stones, that cause no symptoms, are found when an X-ray is taken during a health examination. Many people realize they have a stone when sudden pain occurs while the stone is passing. In this case, medical attention is required.
When a person has blood in the urine or sudden stomach or side pain, tests like an ultrasound or a CT scan may diagnose a stone.
These scans tell the doctor how big the stone is and where it is.
Treatment depends on the type of stone you have, how worse it is, and the length of time you have had symptoms. You have many choices. Talk to your doctor regarding this.
Why You Get Stones
Your doctor performs tests to find out what is causing you to form stones. Then, your doctor will give you tips to help stop them from coming back. Some of the tests are listed below.
Medical and Dietary History
Your health care provider will ask questions about your personal and family medical history.
Knowing your eating habits is also helpful. You may be eating foods that are known to raise the risk of stones. Understanding the medical, family, and dietary history helps to find out how likely you are to form more stones.
Blood and Urine Tests
Blood tests can help find what medical problem is causing your stones. If you have a high risk of getting stones in the future, a 24-hour urine collection can be done. This test will reveal the levels of different stone-forming matter in your urine.
When a doctor sees you for the first time, he may want to see recent X-rays.
Prevention of Future Stones
Once your kidney specialist finds out why you are forming stones, he will give you tips on how to prevent them. This may include changing your diet and take certain medications. Mentioned hereunder Below are some tips.
- Diet Changes
- Drink enough fluids each day.
- Reduce the amount of salt in your diet.
- Eat the recommended amount of calcium.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat foods with low oxalate levels.
- Eat less meat.