Pain In Your Back Or Side? Painful Urination? It Could Be Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are hard pebble-like pieces of material forming in either or both of the kidneys when high levels of certain minerals are present in the urine. They rarely will cause permanent damage after being treated by a doctor.
Kidney stones differ in size and shape. They can vary from the size of a pea to as big as a golf ball. A small one may pass through the urinary tract easily causing little or no pain. But a larger kidney stone may get stuck and block the flow of urine leading to severe pain or bleeding. Kidney stones may be smooth or jagged and are usually yellow or brown.
Men have a higher chance of developing kidney stones than women. Also, it matters if there is a family history or that the individual himself or herself has developed kidneys stones in the past. Intake of less amount of liquids are also likely to result in developing a kidney stone.
Kidney stones do not generally lead to any complication, if treated by a specialist. Although if not treated, then it can result in certain problems such as:
- Urine containing blood
- Extreme pain
- UTI and kidney infections
- Loss of kidney function
Types of Kidney Stones are:
The most common type of kidney stones are calcium stones and calcium oxalate stones being more common than the calcium phosphate stones. When the excess calcium which has not been used by the bones and muscles stay in the kidney rather than being flushed out in the urine as a normal process, gets combined and joins the other waste products then kidney stones are formed. Generally though the calcium from the food we intake will not result in calcium oxalate stones to form.
Uric acid stones
When urine contains excess of acid then it results in the formation of Uric acid stones and one of the leading reasons in the increase of uric acid is eating a lot meat especially organ meat and fish or shellfish.
Struvite stones can develop and enlarge in size quickly and it is after a UTI that they may form.
Cystine stones is a genetic disorder and it is called Cystinuria which results in the amino acid cystine to leak into the urine thought the kidneys.
Causes of Kidney Stones:
Due to certain factors, an individual is more likely develop a kidney stone. Few of those factors are –
- Cystic Kidney disease (Formation of fluid filled sacs on the kidneys)
- Gout (Painful swelling of the joints)
- Hypercalcuria (Urine containing excess amount of calcium)
- Hyperoxaluria (Urine containing excess amount of oxalate)
- hyperparathyroidism (Blood containing excess amount of calcium due to the release of excess parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid glands)
- Hyperuricosuria (Urine containing excess amount of uric acid)
- Renal tubular acidosis (Blood becoming too acidic when kidneys fail to remove the acids by letting it pass through the urine )
- Urinary tract blockage
- Bowel inflammation which is chronic or has been from a very long time
- Gastrointestinal tract surgery in the past or digestive problems
- Repeated or recurrent UTIs
Symptoms of kidney stones include:
- Short or long staying sharp pains which mayor and pass away like waves in your back, lower abdomen, side or groin and during urination
- Coloured blood urine like pink, red or brown blood, a condition called Hematuria
- Sometimes unable to urinate but a constant need to urinate
- Urination a small amount
- Smelly urine
Also a few general symptoms which may be experienced with the pain are:
- Lab tests
- Urinalysis – It involves the testing of the urine sample which shows if the urine has blood and minerals present in it which can form kidney stones. Also if white blood cells and bacteria are preset in the urine then it means that there is a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection).
- Blood tests – It is performed to check if there are high levels of certain minerals present in the blood that can lead to kidney stones.
- Abdominal x-ray
- Computed tomography (CT) scans
The treatment is based on the type of the kidney stones, their size and the location.
Kidney stones that are small in size are made to pass through your urinary tract without any treatment. Usually the doctor then advises to catch and hold the stone in a special container. This allows the lab to know the type of the stone.
The patient is also advised to drink plenty of fluids and water. In cases of pain or difficulty in passing the stone, the doctor will prescribe pain medicines.
Kidney stone is removed or broken into small pieces with the following treatments:
Shock wave lithotripsy:
This treatment uses the shock wave to blast the kidney stone into smaller pieces. These pieces are then allowed to pass through your urinary tract. Typically anaesthesia is given during this treatment procedure.
Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy:
In the cystoscopy treatment method the doctor looks inside the urethra or the bladder to find the stone using a cystoscope. In the ureteroscopy treatment method the doctor looks inside the ureters or the kidney to analyse it’s lining using a ureteroscope, which is longer and thinner than a cystoscope. This procedure is always done under anaesthesia and the stone once found is broken into smaller pieces, after which are removed. The patient can generally return back to his/her home the same day.
In this treatment method a thin viewing tool, called a nephroscope, is used to locate and remove the kidney stones. A small cut is made in the back of the patient and then the doctor inserts the tool directly into your kidney. In the cases where the site of the kidney stones are large, they are first broken with the help of a laser and then remove them.This treatment is performed in a hospital with anaesthesia and may require the patient to stay in the hospital for several days after the procedure.
The stone pieces are sent to the lab for analysis. Also, the urine is collected for 24 hours after the procedure to measure the amount of it being produced in a day and to know the mineral levels in the urine.
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