Kidney stones, also known as renal calculi are solid materials made of crystals. Kidney’s function is to filter waste from the blood to create urine. Sometimes, salts and other minerals present in urine attach to form a solid mass of crystals known as kidney stones. The size of the stone varies from sugar crystal to a size of a ping pong ball.
The different types of kidney stones are:
• Calcium – Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stones. They can be of calcium oxalate, phosphate, or maleate. High oxalate foods include potato chips, peanuts, chocolate, beets, and spinach.
• Uric acid – The uric acid stone is more common among men than women. When the urine is more acidic, this type of stone is formed. Purine-rich diet increases acidity in the urine. Purine is a colorless substance present in fish, shellfish, and meats.
• Struvite – Women having urinary tract infections can have struvite stones. The size of these stones can be large enough to cause urinary tract obstruction. These are caused due to infection of the kidney.
• Cystine – Cystine stone formation is rare. This stone can occur in men and women who have a history of genetic disorder cystinuria. Cystine is an acid that is naturally occurring in the body, however, when it leaks from the kidney into the urine, cysteine stones are formed.
There are no symptoms of kidney stones unless there is some blockage and cause severe pain if they move into the ureters, ducts that lead to the urinary bladder. If the size of the stone is small, it might pass it through the urine without any symptoms. The symptoms include:
• Severe pain in the one side of the back or abdomen or groin region, known as renal colic.
• Frequent or painful urination
• Blood in the urine, the color of urine may be red, pink or brown.
• Nausea and vomiting
• Foul-smelling urine
• Chills and fever
• Reduction of urine while urinating
The main reason for the formation of kidney stones is when there is a change in the normal balance of the water, salts, and minerals found in urine. Different kinds of changes result in different types of kidney stone formation. Major factors that trigger changes in the urine ranges from chronic medical conditions to what you eat or drink. The causes of kidney stones include:
• Less water consumed or dehydration
• Eating a diet with high protein, sodium, and high oxalate foods, such as chocolate or dark green vegetables can increase the risk of kidney stones in some people.
• Increase in weight
• Certain medications for conditions such as high blood pressure, urinary tract infection.
Treatment and Prevention
Doctors may prescribe medications for pain relief. Other treatments for kidney stones include:
• Lithotripsy – It uses shock waves to break large stones into smaller sizes so that they can easily pass through ureters into your urinary bladder.
• Tunnel surgery – A minor surgery is conducted where a small cut is made in the back to remove stones. Tunnel surgery is suggested when the kidney is affected and urinary tract is obstructed or is infected due to stone.
• Ureteroscopy – When the ureter or bladder is obstructed with the stone ureteroscopy is suggested. A small wire is inserted into the urethra and passed into the bladder and a camera is attached to locate the stone and remove it.
Once you suffer from kidney stones, then you need to follow the preventive measures to avoid kidney stones again in future. You must control your diet and reduce salt and sodium intake to control the release of calcium in the urine. Doctors might advise you to avoid foods containing high oxalates including chocolates, instant coffee/ tea, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, and sweet potatoes. The best way to prevent the formation of kidney stones is drinking enough water so that the urine passed is clear. Further, consuming moderate amount of dairy products and other calcium-rich foods may be helpful in lowering the risk of formation of kidney stones.
Kidney stones can be prevented when you keep yourself hydrated. The experts have recommended that one should pass 2.5 liters of urine daily. One can also drink other fluids such as ginger ale, fruit juice, soup or lemon juice, lemon soda. One should consult a doctor and discuss the best method for preventing kidney stones.