The 4 types of Kidney stones and their common symptoms
Defined as hard and small mineral deposits that develop inside your kidney, kidney stones are made up of acid salts and minerals. The causes of this disease are not well-defined, although risk factors include drinking very little amounts of water and having a diet rich in sodium, protein and oxalate (chocolate and green leafy foods for example). However, knowing the type of kidney stone you suffer from can help ascertain the cause.
Here are the common types of Kidney stones.
This type of kidney stone is usually a response to certain kind of infection, such as a urinary tract infection for example. Characterised by rapid growth and a large size, struvite stones can develop without any warning signs.
These are the most common type and are caused by a diet rich in oxalate. Risk factors for calcium stones include a diet consisting of plenty of nuts, chocolates and certain fruits and vegetables; metabolic disorders, high doses of vitamin d and intestinal bypass surgery, all of which can increase the amounts of calcium or oxalate in your urine, indicating the development of kidney stones.
Those individuals with a hereditary disorder that causes their kidneys to produce certain amino acids (cystinuria to be precise) in excess are most likely to get cystine stones.
Uric acid stones
These are common in those whose diets are lacking in water or those who suffer from the excess fluid loss. People with a high protein diet and those who suffer from gout are also at risk. Genetic factors play a major role as well in increasing your risk of getting uric acid stones.
Apart from these, there are other rarer types of kidney stones that can also arise depending on a combination of an individual's lifestyle and genetic make-up.
However, to determine whether you're suffering from any of the aforementioned types of kidney stones, you must first know its common symptoms, which are:
- Excruciating pain in your sides, and back, especially below your ribs
- Feelings of pain in the groin and the lower parts of your abdomen
- Intense and fluctuating pain that comes and goes in waves
- Pain while urinating
- Urine that is red, brown or pink in colour
- Urine that's cloudy or has a foul odour
- Vomiting and nausea
- Constant urge to urinate
- Increased frequency of urination
- Urinating in small amounts
- Chills and fever in case of an infection
Kidneys and Kidney Diseases
The kidneys are organs which aim to filter out huge amounts of blood to produce 1-2 quarts of urine. They also perform the task of filtering out the excessive waste materials from the blood stream.
However, there can be cases when infection enters your bloodstream and affects your kidneys. This can cause serious kidney diseases such as cysts, stones and cancer.
Diabetes: What is it and how does it affect your kidneys?
Diabetes is a condition which is caused when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (Type 1 Diabetes) or when your body doesn’t react to the insulin in a normal way (Type 2 Diabetes). The sugar in your food cannot be broken down effectively which can result in problems in your kidneys.
The glucose content in your blood causes considerable damage to the filters in your kidneys. When the filters in the kidney are damaged, a particular protein called albumin releases into your blood and your urine. The damage in the kidneys can affect the kidney function and obstruct the filtering out of wastes from the blood.
Thus, diabetes could be attributed as a major cause of kidney disease.
Managing diabetes is crucial to avoid kidney diseases. However, diabetes doesn’t have a proper cure which is why it is even more important to take care of your health in such cases.
Here are a few ways in which diabetic patients can aim to be healthy and prevent kidney diseases:
Quit Smoking: Smoking increases diabetic complications such as nerve damage and heart strokes which can in-turn affect your kidneys’ functions adversely. Hence, it is advisable to quit smoking to keep diabetes under control.
Healthy Meals: Opt for healthy meals which are balanced and packed with nutrients as they help in increasing the insulin function in your body. Foods such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, fruits and lean meat should be included in your meals.
Engage in Physical Exercise: A diabetic person needs to engage in physical exercise in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Obesity can increase your chances of complications and can be detrimental to your kidneys as well. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor and ask a free question.
Kidney stones are often small enough and pass through urine without much bother. Most kidney stones are smaller than 4 mm in diameter. Having said this, even the smallest of kidney stones can be really painful until they pass through urine (learn more what Urine Says About Your Health). It typically takes a couple of days for the body to get rid of it. While medication and self-care are the foremost options, there are a range of other options as well available for treating kidney stones.
Admission to a Hospital-
You must get admitted to a hospital if the stone moves to the ureter, thereby resulting in severe pain. Typically kidney stones which are more than 6 mms in diameter need to be surgically removed through procedures such as ureteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), open surgery and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). A doctor takes a call on any of the above procedure if:
The patient is inching towards a kidney failure.
The pain doesn’t go away even after taking pain killers.
If the patient is pregnant (learn more about for healthy pregnancy)
If the patient is more than 60 years.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)-
ESWL is one of the simple and most preferred stone removing procedures. It involves the usage of ultrasound shock waves to break the bigger stones into smaller ones. The latter is then passed through urine. A patient is given a few painkillers since this mode of treatment could be a little uncomfortable. A patient might need multiple ESWLs to successfully get rid of all the stones.
If a stone gets stuck in the ureter, a medical procedure known as the ureteroscopy is performed. In this procedure, a thin telescope is passed through the urethra and bladder to the ureter. Either a second instrument is used or the telescope itself has laser energy to break the bigger stone into smaller ones. This procedure is ideal for stones that have a diameter more than 15 mm.
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
PCNL is an alternative to ESWL for removing big stones. This procedure involves the usage of nephroscope that is routed into the kidney through a small incision made behind the back of the patient. This procedure requires general anesthesia and is effective for breaking stones that have a diameter of 20 mm or more. It has a success rate of 86%.
This is one of the older methods to eradicate kidney stones. Unless the stone size is abnormally large and other procedures cannot be performed, open surgery is generally avoided. An open surgery involves making an incision and getting access to the ureter and the kidney. The surgeon then removes the stone from the kidney. This procedure requires general anesthesia and the patient needs to be under observation for at least 24 hours, post surgery.