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Kidney stones are considered among the most painful medical conditions. But these stones rarely cause any permanent damage, if diagnosed on time. Proper diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones is important to avoid any complications.
Kidney stones are solid crystallized masses of salt and mineral that form in your kidney. Although these stones usually originate in the kidney, they can develop anywhere in your urinary tract i.e. in your kidneys, bladder, ureters, or urethra. Kidney stones are also called renal calculi.
Kidney stones owe their existence to family history, diet, excess body weight, some medical conditions, and certain supplements and medications. These stones do not have a single definitive cause. Many factors can increase the risk of the development of kidney stones.
These usually form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances like calcium oxalate and uric acid or when your urine lacks substances that prevent crystal formation, this provides an ideal environment for stones to form.
Types of kidney stones
Knowing the type of kidney stones can help in pointing out the exact cause. This will help in devising a proper plan for the treatment of kidney stones.
The most common type of kidney stones is calcium stones, occurring as calcium oxalate crystals. Other types of kidney stones include struvite stones, uric acid stones, and cystine stones.
A kidney stone won’t show any symptoms until it moves into your ureter. When it enters the ureter it clogs the tube and blocks the flow of urine. This can be extremely painful.
If you feel sharp pains usually in waves below your ribs that radiate to the lower abdomen and groin. Or you feel pain or burning while urinating, you should consult a urologist.
Other common symptoms include foul-smelling urine, red or brown urine, nausea and vomiting, and recurrent fever and infections.
If you or your doctor thinks that you might have kidney stones, the next step is to go for a diagnostic test.
- Urine test: A urine test shows if your urine contains too many crystal-forming materials. Usually, two samples of urine are collected, for two consecutive days.
- Blood test: A blood test shows if you have excessive amounts of calcium or uric acid.
- Image testing: Image testing can show the stones in your urinary tract. Advanced options like CT (computerized tomography) scan even detect tiny stones.
- Analyzing of ejected stones: Urinating through a strainer will help in collecting the stones. These stones will be analyzed in labs to determine their makeup and exact cause. This can help in preventing further stone formations.
Treatment Of Kidney Stones
The treatment of kidney stones depends on the severity of the condition, site of stones, and the cause of the stones.
If your condition is at a very early stage, simple lifestyle changes can help. Drinking plenty of water will help a bundle. This will dissolve the stones and you will be able to pass them out with urine.
Drinking 2-3 quarts of water or simply drinking enough that your urine shows no color will help in preventing and treating kidney stones. Keep in mind that this treatment is for tiny stones, if your condition has worsened this might not work for you.
Kidney stones can be extremely painful. Small stones can be passed through urine but this too can be painful and your doctor might suggest some pain-relieving medicines. This will help you in passing the stone without much pain.
Medication for Passing Stones
Your doctor might suggest medicines like alpha-blocker. This will help in relaxing your muscles, making it easier to pass the stones. This kind of medication works for small-sized stones only.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
This procedure uses sound waves to break the stones. This shatters the stone into smaller pieces which can be passed out with the urine. This procedure lasts for about 40-60 minutes and the patient usually sedated. Your doctor will recommend this, based on the size and location of your kidney stones.
Lithotripsy can cause bruising, bleeding around the kidney, blood in the urine, and discomfort as you pass the broken pieces with your urine.
If your kidney stones are large, the doctor might have to remove them through surgery. The common procedure is called percutaneous nephrolithotomy. This involves surgically removing a kidney stone using small telescopes and instruments inserted through a small incision in your back.
This ensures complete removal of kidney stones and you might have to stay at the hospital for a day or two.
Ureteroscopy For Stone Removal
Your doctor may suggest passing a thin tube called a ureteroscope, with a camera, in your ureter or kidney through your urethra or bladder. The tube will help in locating the stone. The doctor will then break the stone with the help of special tubes. To relieve the pain and discomfort, a stent can also be placed.
Parathyroid Gland Surgery
If you have recurrent calcium stones, it might be that your parathyroid gland is overactive. An overactive parathyroid gland releases an excessive amount of parathyroid hormone which causes your calcium levels to become too high. This excessive calcium can cause kidney stone formation.
Hyperparathyroidism usually happens when there is a tumor in the parathyroid gland. The doctor might recommend surgery to remove this tumor. This will help in restoring the healthy functioning of the gland and will prevent kidney stone formation.
The Bottom Line
Although kidney stones are not harmful in earlier stages, they can be extremely painful. If you suspect that you have this illness you should consult a urologist.
To read more about kidneys and related issues read our health blog.
Book an appointment now, to answer all your queries. You can book an appointment with top urologists in Pakistan through Marham by calling 0311-1222398 or online appointment booking facility through the website or Marham mobile app.
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