Kidney Stones: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Kidney Stones

What are kidney stones? Kidney stones, or renal calculi, are solid masses made of crystals. Kidney stones usually originate in your kidneys. However, they can develop anywhere along your urinary tract, which consists of these parts:

Alt text =Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are one of the most painful medical conditions. The causes of kidney stones vary according to the type of stone.

Types of kidney stones

Not all kidney stones are made up of the same crystals. The different types of kidney stones include:

Calcium

Calcium stones are the most common. They’re often made of calcium oxalate (though they can consist of calcium phosphate or maleate). Eating fewer oxalate-rich- foods can reduce your risk of developing this type of stone. High-oxalate foods include:

  • potato chips
  • peanuts
  • chocolate
  • beets
  • spinach

However, even though some kidney stones are made of calcium, getting enough calcium in your diet can prevent stones from forming.

Uric acid

This type of kidney stone is more common in men than in women. They can occur in people with gout or those going through chemotherapy. 

This type of stone develops when urine is too acidic. A diet rich in purines can increase urine’s acidic level. Purine is a colourless substance in animal proteins, such as fish, shellfish, and meats.

Struvite

This type of stone is found mostly in women with urinary tract infections (UTIs). These stones can be large and cause urinary obstruction. They result from a kidney infection. Treating an underlying infection can prevent the development of struvite stones.

Cystine

Cystine stones are rare. They occur in both men and women who have the genetic disorder cystinuria. With this type of stone, cystine, an acid that occurs naturally in the body, leaks from the kidneys into the urine.

Risk factors of kidney stones

The greatest risk factor for kidney stones is making less than 1 litre of urine per day. This is why kidney stones are common in premature infants who have kidney problems. However, kidney stones are most likely to occur in people between the ages of 20 and 50.

Different factors can increase your risk of developing a stone. In the United States, white people are more likely to have kidney stones than black people.

Sex also plays a role. More men than women develop kidney stones, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

A history of kidney stones can increase your risk. So does a family history of kidney stones.

Other risk factors include:

  • dehydration
  • obesity
  • a diet with high levels of protein, salt, or glucose
  • hyperparathyroid condition
  • gastric bypass surgery
  • inflammatory bowel diseases that increase calcium absorption
  • taking medications such as triamterene diuretics, antiseizure drugs, and calcium-based antacids

Recognizing the symptoms and signs of kidney stone

Generally, kidney stones cause severe pain. Symptoms of kidney stones may not occur until the stone begins to move down the ureters. Especially this severe pain is called renal colic. Such as you may have pain on one side of your back or abdomen.

Kidney stones pain area

Such as in men, pain may radiate to the groin area. The pain of renal colic comes and goes, but can be intense. Generally, people with renal colic tend to be restless.

Other symptoms of kidney stones can include:

  • blood in the urine (red, pink, or brown urine)
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • discolored or foul-smelling urine
  • chills
  • fever
  • frequent need to urinate
  • urinating small amounts of urine

Furthermore small kidney stones, you may not have any pain or symptoms as the stone passes through your urinary tract.

Why kidney stones can be a problem

In the meantime, stones don’t always stay in the kidney. Sometimes they pass from the kidney into the ureters. In this case, ureters are small and delicate, and the stones may be too large to pass smoothly down the ureter to the bladder.

In short passaging of stones down the ureter can cause spasms and irritation of the ureters. Such as this causes blood to appear in the urine.

Such as sometimes stones block the flow of urine. Thus this is called a urinary obstruction. In addition, urinary obstructions can lead to kidney infection and kidney damage.

Testing for and diagnosing kidney stones

To begin with, the Diagnosis of kidney stones needs a complete health history evaluation and a physical exam. Other tests include:

  • blood tests for calcium, phosphorus, uric acid, and electrolytes
  • blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine to assess kidney functioning
  • also, a urinalysis to check for crystals, bacteria, blood, and white cells
  • also an examination of passed stones to determine their type

The following tests can rule out obstruction:

  • abdominal X-rays
  • intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • retrograde pyelogram
  • ultrasound of the kidney (the preferred test)
  • MRI scan of the abdomen and kidneys
  • also CT scan abdominal

In particular, the contrast dye used in the CT scan and the IVP can affect kidney function. However, in people with normal kidney function, this isn’t a concern.

In short, there are some medications that can increase the potential for kidney damage in conjunction with the dye. Likewise, make sure your radiologist knows about any medications you’re taking.

How kidney stones are treated?

However, treatment is done according to the type of stone. Furthermore, urine can be strained and stones collected for evaluation.

To begin with, drinking six to eight glasses of water a day increases urine flow. In addition, people who are dehydrated or have severe nausea and vomiting may need intravenous fluids.

Other treatment options include:

Medication for kidney stones

Generally, pain relief may require narcotic medications. The presence of infection requires treatment with antibiotics. Other medications include:

  • allopurinol (Zyloprim) for uric acid stones
  • thiazide diuretics to prevent calcium stones from forming
  • sodium bicarbonate or sodium citrate to make the urine less acidic
  • phosphorus solutions to prevent calcium stones from forming
  • ibuprofen (Advil) for pain
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain
  • naproxen sodium (Aleve) for pain

Lithotripsy for kidney stones

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy uses sound waves to break up large stones so they can more easily pass down the ureters into your bladder. This procedure can be uncomfortable and may require light anesthesia. It can cause bruising on the abdomen and back and bleeding around the kidney and nearby organs.

Tunnel surgery (percutaneous nephrolithotomy)

As a rule, a surgeon removes the stones through a small incision in your back. A person may need this procedure when:

  • the stone causes obstruction and infection or is damaging the kidneys
  • the stone has grown too large to pass
  • likewise, pain can’t be managed

Ureteroscopy

When a stone is stuck in the ureter or bladder, your doctor may use an instrument called a ureteroscope to remove it.

As a result of a small wire with a camera attached is inserted into the urethra and passed into the bladder. The doctor then uses a small cage to snag the stone and remove it. The stone is then sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Kidney stone prevention

Proper hydration is most important. Such as, your doctor may recommend drinking enough water to pass about 2.6 quarts of urine each day. Such as increasing the amount of urine you pass helps flush the kidneys.

You can substitute ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, and fruit juice for water to help you increase your fluid intake. Such as if the stones are related to low citrate levels, citrate juices could help prevent the formation of stones.

Eating oxalate-rich foods in moderation and reducing your intake of salt and animal proteins can also lower your risk of kidney stones.

However, your doctor may prescribe medications to help prevent the formation of calcium and uric acid stones. However, if you’ve had a kidney stone or you’re at risk for a kidney stone, speak with your doctor and discuss the best methods of prevention.

Home remedies for kidney stones

1. Drinking water  

As mentioned earlier, dehydration causes stones and therefore drinking adequate water is important to treat and prevent kidney stones. One should at least drink eight glasses of water to prevent stones.

Generally, drinking 12 glasses of water a day will help in the smooth passage or slow the growth of deposits in the kidneys. 

2. Pomegranate juice

However, people have considered drinking pomegranate juice as a method to improve the functions of the kidney. Such as this natural method helps flush out toxins and stones from the body. In addition, these juices contain antioxidants which are helpful for maintaining kidney health and prevent future stones from developing. 

Pomegranate juice also lowers the acid levels of urine. As a result of this reduces the risks of developing stones in the future. Generally, the acidic nature of urine causes a burning sensation and itching. As per global standards of pathology, a neutral pH in the urine sample test is pegged at 7.0, and the higher the number, the more basic (alkaline) the urine’s pH balance is. The lower the number, the more acidic your urine is. Most people register the average urine sample test level of pH at about 6.0

While there is really no warned upper limit to drinking pomegranate juice in a day. But most people are expected to drink whatever amount they can comfortably drink, digest, and afford.

In particular, where medications are changed because of the liver, then this juice should be avoided. If someone is taking blood pressure medications such as chlorothiazide (Diuril), then also avoid drinking pomegranate juice. 

3. Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar juice

Since both these juices contain citric acids, they help in dissolving kidney stones as well as alkalize blood and urine. Apple cider vinegar also lowers the pain caused by stones. 

One can also try drinking two 5-oz glasses of lemon juice empty stomach first thing in the morning and a few hours before having dinner. However, buying the juice from a store’s or restaurant’s counter is advised against as lemon juice from the market is likely to contain sweeteners or additives that can increase the risk of developing stones. So, it is best to squeeze a washed and sliced lemon yourself and have it with water. 

4. Basil

Tulsi or Basil helps not just in flushing out stones but also to not let kidney stones develop. Basil makes it harder for kidney stones to develop as it stabilizes uric acid levels. It also contains acetic acids which are helpful in dissolving kidney stones.

One teaspoon of basil extract or pure juice once a day will treat and prevent stones from developing.

5. Kidney beans 

Generally, kidney beans are an extremely rich source in getting magnesium which helps in reducing symptoms associated with kidney stones. Generally, kidney bean broth helps in dissolving and flushing out stones. The solution can then be strained and served warm or cooled. 

 6. Celery juice

For the most part, celery juice has long been used traditionally for flushing out toxins from the body. In addition, it contains antioxidants and compounds that help in urine production. Also, it clears out toxins that contribute to forming kidney stones. 

To make celery juice, blend one or more celery stalks with water and drink it throughout the day. 

However, people with low blood pressure, bleeding disorder or about to get an operation should avoid this treatment. Also, if you are taking medications such as levothyroxine (Synthroid), lithium (Lithane), isotretinoin (Sotret) or sedative medications, such as alprazolam (Xanax), avoid drinking celery juice. 

7. Extra-virgin olive oil

Generally, this may help in clearing out kidney stones by lubricating the urinary tract. Accordingly having a 5-oz glass first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon will reduce pain from stones. 

8. Dandelion roots

For the most part, dandelion removes wastes from the body as it boosts the production of urine and bile. Dandelions are also good for digestion and contain Vitamin A, B, C and D and minerals such as zinc, iron and potassium.

You can either buy dandelion as a tea or make fresh dandelion juice. Also one can add ginger, apple, or orange peel to the juice for a better taste. For the most part, drink 3-4 glasses of tea or juice throughout the day.

In particular avoid this juice if you are taking any one of these, antibiotics, blood thinners, antacids, lithium, diuretics, such as spironolactone. 

As with any treatment you’re considering, consult with your doctor before following any medication — natural or otherwise. 

Author: jayma
I am Usha Gupta, an aspiring lady with a strong passion for all medical and scientific advancements. Promoting lifestyle tips and knowledge related to medical terminology.