A kidney stone is a solid mass that is formed from crystals present in the urine. People with normal body functioning have natural chemicals in their body that prevent the formation of kidney stones. Commonly, there are two kinds of kidney stones –
A special diet or changes in diet is mostly suggested along with the prescribed medication who have kidney stones. This helps not only in the cure of kidney stones but prevention as well. Struvite and Cystine stones usually require intervention to help deal with the problem, the other two, calcium and uric acid stones can be managed with diet and medication both.
Thus, if you are diagnosed with calcium and uric acid stones, you can follow a diet specific to the type of stone which can assist in preventing the formation of stones.
Medication is an obvious way to cure kidney stones, but a healthy diet can prevent further developing of kidney stones. Hence, following a diet suggested by your dietician, and avoiding certain types of food can prevent kidney stones.
Our kidneys act as filters which constantly flushes out toxins and excess minerals with water in form of urine. Urine contains lots of minerals which may precipitate and form stones. Urine has lots of pro-precipitating agents and anti-precipitating agents. When their balance disturbs due to some disease, stones start forming. These stones may often lead to abdominal pain which is referred to as renal colic.
What exactly is renal colic?
Renal or ureteric colic is the term used for typical pain in one side of abdomen in flank region starting from back and radiating forward towards lower abdomen up to scrotum. This is usually associated with nausea, vomiting and urinary discomfort. There may be blood in urine.
How kidney stones are related to renal colic?
Kidney stones usually form inside kidney and lies there without causing any pain. But whenever they are dislodged and stuck at mouth of kidney (pelvis) or anywhere in ureter, they block the passage of urine of that kidney. This causes swelling in kidney termed as hydronephrosis. This swelling in kidney causes renal / ureteric colic. This colic is protective phenomenon and tries to push out the stones. Small stones do come out in urine by this natural process. This spontaneous expulsion of small stones is common and many local practitioners used to get credit of it feigning benefit of their medicine. However large stones need some form of intervention to come out. Otherwise, they do harm to kidneys in long term.
Symptoms of kidney stones along with renal /ureteric colic -
Treatment of renal colic
Treatment of ureteric/renal stones involves control of symptoms and stone removal.
As we all are aware that waste products in the blood are passed through urine. This filtering process is done by the kidneys as it separates the waste products including minerals and salts, which have to be passed out through urine. Many times, these minerals and salts get stuck in your urinary tract and over a long period, this forms kidney stones. They can vary in size from a ping pong ball to the size of a sugar crystal. They are not noticed till the time they cause a blockage. Sometimes, they cause immense pain if they start breaking or are pushed into the ureters (narrow ducts which lead to the bladder).
Symptoms of kidney stones:
1. Immense pain in the groin, belly and back.
2. Pain while urinating and urination occurring frequently.
3. Blood found in the urine (haematuria).
4. Vomiting and nausea.
5. Feeling extremely restless and not being able to lie still.
Kidney stones can also cause a kidney infection. Signs of a kidney infection include:
Kidney stones can also cause infection in the kidneys as they block the passage of urine to the bladder by blocking the ureters. This leads to build up of the waste product which can result in an infection. Some of the symptoms of kidney infections could be:
1. Feeling chilly and shivering on your skin.
2. High temperature of 100.4 F (38C) or more.
3. A feeling of fatigue or weakness.
4. Immense diarrhea
5. Bad smelling and cloudy urine.
Types of Kidney stones:
1. Struvite stones: It contains ammonia and magnesium. It is usually quite large and horn-shaped.
2. Uric acid stones: Brown, smooth and softer than other kinds of kidney stones.
3. Cystine stones: They are yellow and don’t look like stones. They usually resemble crystal.
4. Calcium stones: It is composed of calcium.
What causes kidney stones?
Kidney stones can occur due to several factors. It usually forms when urine generally contains crystal substances like uric acid, calcium and oxalate. Your urine might not be able to dilute these substances resulting in the perfect environment for the formation of kidney stones. In case you are showing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should visit your doctor immediately before the problem can worsen.
Stone diseases are a part of health issues related to the urological system in our body. Depending on their position, they may be classified into kidney stones and ureteral stones. Stone diseases are extremely common in nature and if treated timely it does not cause much damage to the body.
Types of Stones in the Human Body:
There are four types of kidney stones and ureteral stones in the human body namely – calcium, uric acid, struvite and cystine. The main difference between kidney stones and ureteral stones is that of the location. Kidney stones are transformed into ureteral stones when they pass from the kidney into the ureter.
Warning Signs to detect Kidney and Ureteral Stones
Kidney stones may be present in your body but they do not cause any obstructions unless they move into the ureter. Symptoms to detect the presence of stones in your body include –
Modes of Diagnosis:
The following methods are used to diagnose kidney stones/ureteral stones in the body-
• Imaging Tests – X-rays and CT scans are used to detect the presence of bigger and smaller stones respectively.
• Urine Tests – They help to detect the presence of stone forming particles in urine thus helping to diagnose stones in the kidney.
• Blood Tests – They help display levels of calcium and uric acid in the blood and monitor the general health of kidneys.
Treatment of kidney/ureteral stones:
Treatment of stones depends on their size and severity. For smaller stones, doctors recommend drinking 2-3 litres of water per day that help in flushing out the stone through urine. Doctors also prescribe medicines which helps break down the stone and reduce pain.
If the stones are large in size and exhibit severe complications, then the urologist will resort to the following treatment procedures-
• Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL) – In this process, a machine called lithotripter is used which passes ultrasonic waves through the skin to break up the stone into smaller components. The shattered pieces then pass out of the body through the urinary tract.
• Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PNL) – This is an endoscopic method used to remove large stones, which are not possible to eliminate through SWL. This is an invasive procedure and general anaesthesia is done prior to surgery.
• Ureteroscopy – In this process, a ureteroscope is inserted into the urethra to locate the stone and a tool is used to break it into smaller pieces or is taken out as a whole.
Prevention of Kidney and Ureteral Stones
Certain lifestyle changes can go a long way in preventing stones in the body. Some of them include drinking lots of healthy fluids, reducing consumption of oxalate-rich foods and animal protein, reducing sodium intake and controlling one’s body weight.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking prompt medical action in case of detection of stone lessens the harmful effect of kidney and ureteral stones in the body.