What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are probably the most common complication among people when it comes to their kidney, uterer, and bladder. This is because many people are prone to it because of unhealthy diet and laid back living with minimal physical movements at all. Experts say that any person has great chances of encountering kidney stones in one point of his or her life. But, with early diagnosis, healthy lifestyle, diet to prevent the condition, and regular exercise, one can recover from it. However, recovering might be easy but if people would not religiously follow the keys to avoiding kidney stones, chance are, they will have it again probably in the next 10 or 15 years of his or her life.
Many people tend to neglect kidney stones because they think that they can easily recover from it with all the medications and medical procedures available today. One thing that they don’t realize is that if they continue to have their kidney stones unchecked or undiagnosed, they are more prone to develop related diseases which will make their health conditions more complicated.
Knowledge is power
To avoid further complications when it comes to kidney stones, it is best that Patient arm Patient'sself with all the knowledge that Patient can get especially if Patient think that Patient are prone to the condition. The first thing that Patient need to know about kidney stones is what it really is. Kidney stones are made up of minerals and other excess substances in body. It is the product when these substances and minerals are formed in the person's urine. The process of developing kidney stones involved the crystallization of minerals and other elated substances then form a "lumps" which can be hard as a real stone. It most cases, kidney stones can be very tiny when they initially form but can grow, as it remains undiagnosed. From a stone that can be compared to the size of grain, kidney stones can grow in size up to a quarter inch or even larger. Experts say that people who have kidney stones don't have to worry so much about its size but should more focus on where its is located. The location of the kidney stones matter that much because it can cause the kidney and other related organs not to function very well.
Doctors agree that kidney stones that sit in the kidney itself are not much of a problem. But if it's located it the uterer the tube that connects to the bladder it is a very big problem. This is because the stone regardless of its size can block the path where the urine should pass. When this happens, it will cause the person a great deal of pain because it will stretch the kidney so much. The pressure caused by this stretching can build up and can even result to other related symptoms such as blood in the urine or hematuria, nausea, vomiting, and slight fever or chills especially if there's already an infection. The next piece of information that Patient should also pay attention to is the possible causes of the condition. Experts say that there are a number of factors that may cause the development of kidney stones. These factors may include the Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) that the person has developed, kidney failure, diseases that may have been inherited that involves the kidney, foods that contain high levels of calcium, sodium, oxalates, and others, as well as lack of regular movement or exercise.
Diagnosis for kidney stones
If not diagnosed as early as possible, kidney stones can cause a person a great deal of pain and discomfort. Aside from that, it can also cause people to develop many complications as time go by. To avoid the pain brought by the development of kidney stones and its risks to Patient's health, it is a must that Patient undergo immediate diagnosis once Patient suspect that there's something wrong.
Checking for kidney stones
A kidney specialist should administer diagnosis for kidney stones. Usually, the doctor will make a diagnosis of kidney stones using an assessment of the person's clinical history. Here, he or she will ask a couple of questions that involve the person's lifestyle, diet, fluid intake, past experience with kidney stones, and if there is possible family history of kidney stones. This is very effective in the initial assessment of kidney stones in a person because it provides the doctor with information on what caused the stone formation. From here, the specialist can make a hypothesis or and "educated guess" and will refer Patient to undergo the needed medical procedures.
Another effective means of diagnosing kidney stones is a thorough physical examination. Here, the specialist will run a series of physical tests that can help him or her determines conditions, which can put an individual at higher risk for kidney stone formation. Through a thorough physical examination, the doctor can discovers risks such as specific diseases and medical conditions, certain injuries, recent immobilization, and abdominal scars that might be effects of any previous medical procedure or surgery.
A laboratory study of the person's blood and urine is also another effective means of diagnosing kidney stones. During a laboratory evaluation, the person's blood and urine samples will undergo thorough observation and studies. Collecting a sample of urine to be analyzed is called "urinalysis". Urinalysis is one of the simplest tests to detect the presence of blood and bacteria present in the urine. This is also done by the specialist or the attending assistant to accurately measure the levels and amount calcium which is the primary component of common kidney stones electrolytes, and uric acid as well as the other components in the samples.
Aside from the acidity of the person's urine, other components in the blood is also paid attention to ensure that there will be not further complications. Other significant laboratory tests include blood tests for "creatinine" which evaluates the proper function of the kidney, the "BUN" and "electrolytes" which is used to detect levels of dehydration, "calcium" which is done to detect hyperparathyroidism, and a complete "blood count" which is primarily done to detect any infection in the person's system.
During the laboratory evaluation, the kidney stone sample is also collected to analyze and determine what type of is it stone. Knowing the type of kidney stone is important so the physician can plot the appropriate treatment for it as soon as possible. Lastly, kidney stones can also be diagnosed through a possible follow-up with an X-ray evaluation. Here, the specialist or the assistant will use x-rays to identify the location of the kidney stone. Through x-ray, the size of stones and its number can be seen. It may also help the doctor to identify which type of kidney stones is present in the person's kidney. Depending on the number and the severity, most kidney stones could be treated without using medical intervention. Although some kidney stones can pass without medical treatments, it is always best to have them diagnosed and treated the earliest possible time.
Treating kidney stones
Unless they feel discomforting pain and present of blood in their urine, people will not go to a doctor for a kidney stones checkup. This is because people tend to neglect the severity of the condition and its possible complications once not diagnosed and treated early.
Experts say that the problem why people who are suffering from kidney stones is that they always tend to be complacent in keeping up with a healthy diet and regular exercise. They deliberately or not deliberately without realizing that they will suffer and spend more money once the condition gets worse over time.
The most common types of kidney stones among people are the calcium oxalate stones and uric acid stone, which are caused by too much calcium and sodium intake. These types of stones are not really that harmful unless they increase in size fast and block the uteter the tube that is connected to the bladder and will cause urination problems.
Treatments and medication available
Today, there are so many types of treatments and medications available for people with kidney stones. These forms of treatments vary depending on the severity of the condition. Experts say that people who have mild kidney stones can sort to medication, which are usually prescribed for certain types.
Medication is considered, as the initial form of treatment especially for symptomatic kidney stones which is common among patients. This is used by people who show early signs of kidney stones such as pain with varying degrees. The most common medication includes the Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs ot NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen, nifedipine, and tamsulosin, which are effective in speeding up the passage of ureteral stones along the uterer. These come in different brands, come in pill form and can be brought over the counter.
For extreme pains, medication can be through the vein to ensure that it will take effect faster. This process of medication is also ideal for people who have low tolerance in taking oral pills. If NSAIDs cannot be administered directly, fluids can also be given to the patient suffering from the pain of kidney stones through the mouth to ensure that there will be enough supply of fluid for the urine.
Although medication can be administered at home, there will be times that the patient need to be brought to the hospitalized especially if the pain does not subside immediately. Once hospitalized, the patient will be asked to strain urine in order to cover the stone and collected for laboratory analysis. Here, the type of stone will be determined as well as its size and number through an imaging test. Here, if Patient's kidney stones are smaller than 5 millimeters, Patient're safe to take medication. But is the stone is about 10 millimeters, Patient will need to undergo a procedure such as:
- Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL) which is the most common option of procedure because it can easily remove stones in the renal pelvis and upper ureter. This procedure requires x-ray or ultrasound to determine the exact location of the kidney stone and uses a high-energy shock wave to remove the stone by breaking it into pieces. However, this is not effective for hard, large, and complicated types of stones.
- Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PNL), on the other hand, is ideal for complex and extremely large kidney stones because it involves invasive surgical procedure in the process of removal which are small telescopic instruments passing through the person's skin.
- Ureteroscopy is used for removing stones that are obstructed in the middle and lower portion of the person's ureter. Here, a tiny telescopic instrument passes through the urethra and bladder and into the ureter and kidney to remove the kidney stones.
Medical alerts for kidney stones
Many people are not aware of it but there are actually different types of kidney stones that some individuals suffer from. Among those types, the most common that most people develop is called "calcium oxalate stone." While others are called "struvite stones," "uric acid stones," and "cystine stones." These types vary depending on what cause them and their characteristics.
People who are prone to kidney stones must familiarize themselves with the different types as early as possible so they would know what to adjust. Aside from setting lifestyles changes, knowing what type of kidney stones develop in the body is also important because it will help Patient do the things that will prevent their existence in Patient's body system.
The symptoms of kidney stones
To be able to address the condition properly, it a must for people who are prone to having kidney stones to familiarize themselves with the condition. In order to determine if one is suffering from kidney stones, here are some medical alerts or symptoms to be noted:
1. Pain in all levels. As vague as it is, pain in varying levels is one of the major medical alerts of kidney stones. Considered as a common symptom for kidney stones, pain may vary depending on the size of the kidney stone and the length of time that it remains undiagnosed. Experts say that pain which can be mild or extreme is normal for people who suffer from kidney stones. This is because as the stone increases in size and weight, the more discomfort it brings especially during urination. Another form of pain that can be experienced due to kidney stones is from renal colic, which brings waves of severe pain that lasts for more than 10 minutes and can even last for an hour depending on the location of the kidney stone.
2. Blood in the urine or "hematuria." The presence of blood in the urine is quite disturbing but this is one of the most common medical alerts of kidney stones.
Other symptoms of kidney stones include nausea or vomiting, pain with urination, and at times, the urgent need to urinate which are usually characterized among children and adults.
The importance of diagnosis
Did Patient know that almost 50 percent of the people who suffer from kidney stones would likely have them again in the next 11 years or so? This is because many of the sufferers do not continue medication and they cease from maintaining healthy diet and lifestyle.
People who are likely to suffer from kidney stones can go to any hospital's Emergency Room or "ER". Here, Patient can ask the attending physician or the hospital clerk on duty to undergo testing. It is advantageous for Patient to go straight in the ER because hospital people will attend to Patient directly. In most cases, it would take a long time before one can actually set at check up with a specialist. So it would be best if Patient go directly to the ER and get the prompt attention that Patient need.
Diagnosis can be done through an assessment of the person's clinical history, a physical examination, laboratory evaluation, and x-ray for follow up. Having early diagnosis can definitely help Patient determine which type of kidney stone is present and would lead to faster and reliable treatments.
Useful tips on how to avoid kidney stones
Kidney is a very important organ in the body that is why it is a must that people take care of it to avoid having complications such as kidney stones. Experts agree that the primary way of avoiding kidney stones is having a major lifestyle modification. By doing this, Patient can eliminate bad and unhealthy practices that affect Patient's kidney.
Aside from considering a major change in Patient's lifestyle, here are some tips that could ensure that Patient are safe from developing kidney stones:
- Drink lots of water. Being a universal solvent, drink sizeable amounts of water can definitely help Patient avoid kidney stones. When there is enough water on Patient's body, Patient can eliminate wastes from the body especially in the kidney. Experts say that two liters of urine will keep people away from kidney stones. Since this is the case, Patient need to drink at least eight glasses to ensure that Patient will have enough liquid to wash away impurities in Patient's body.
- Do diet modification. This diet modification should involve fiber, protein, calcium and sodium. Experts say that by increasing fiber intake and decreasing protein intake during Patient's meals, there are greater chances of being spared from kidney stones. This is because when Patient eat a meal that is high fiber, Patient lessen the risks of developing kidney stones because it aids good digestion and other functions of the kidney. On the other hand, if Patient continue to have high intake of protein, chances are, Patient will develop "uric acid stones" which are caused by having too much protein in meals servings. People who are prone to kidney stones should also decrease the amounts of calcium in their diets. In fact, having moderate intake of calcium is very a simple yet very effective means of staying safe from kidney stones because it reduces the chances of developing the most common type of kidney stones, the calcium oxalate. Cutting down is sodium intake is also a must because Patient lessen the risks of developing kidney stones easily. Experts advise that people who are prone to kidney stones should only consume less than 1,500mg everyday.
- Stay fit and active. Like in all illnesses, having a fit body can keep Patient safe from the pangs of kidney stones. When people have sedentary lives, they are more prone to kidney stone due to lack of physical movements. Being active through regular physical exercise will not only help Patient achieve a sexy body but can also prevent development of kidney stones. How? When people are into regular exercise or physical routine, they develop a good sense of discipline, which can lead them to healthy habits. Once this discipline is achieved through exercise, nothing will serve as a hindrance in maintaining healthy lifestyle.
- Listen to what Patient's body says. This is probably the most sensible tip that people who are prone to having kidney stones can do. They must understand that as they bodies grow older, there are some functions that tend to go slower such as those of the kidney. To avoid developing kidney stones and suffer from it, people must know when to listen to what their body says. It means that if they feel something bad, they should always be open to the possibility that they might be suffering from something. Indeed, the best way to listen to what the body says is by scheduling a check up with a physician to do an overall checking.
Dealing with kidney stones in children
Kidney stones are common to adults who have sedentary life and unhealthy lifestyle habits. But, if Patient hear a child suffering from kidney stones, that would be an entirely different story. Experts say that before, children are lesser prone to kidney stones because they are healthier and more physically active. But, over the years, there has been a constant increase in the number of children that are being affected by kidney stones. Maybe because more and more kids now are living sedentary lives by being in front of the computer or by eating foods that are high in protein, calcium, and sodium.
Kidney stones in kids
Studies show that majority of the children who are prone to developing kidney stones are those that suffer from underlying medical conditions which increases their risk of developing stones this early. For parents to understand how to deal with kidney stones in case their kids suffer from it, they must first understand everything about the condition. Having a broad understanding of the condition can help parents trace possible causes, identify symptoms, and give immediate response to the child in pain. Just like in adults, there are different types of stones, which can be developed in a child's system. This can either be "calcium oxalate" which is the most common and caused by too much presence of calcium in the urine, the "struvite stones," "uric acid stones," and "cystine stones." These types vary depending on the levels of the minerals found and their characteristics. Parents would never know if their children are suffering from kidney stones if they are not familiar with its symptoms such as abdominal or back pain, blood in the urine or hematuria, vomiting or nausea, and the often need to urinate. In Patientnger kids, these symptoms cannot easily be recognized that is why there is a need to undergo laboratory evaluation and tests. Since kidney stones is not common among children, especially to Patientnger ones, it is a must to identify the risk factors present such as:
Possible history of the kidney stones which makes children more prone to the condition in the future. (Studies show that kids who have history of kidney stones are likely to suffer from the same problem in the next 10 to 20 years of his or her life.);
- Low fluid especially water intake because it affects the ideal amount of urine that should be released daily. (If there is lesser water or fluid intake, the chances of developing kidney stones are much higher because there will be more concentration of substances that leads to faster kidney stone formation.);
- Amount of diet, especially those high in animal protein such as beef, pork, lamb, or chicken are likely to develop kidney stones because they have higher concentration of protein which is one of the primary causes of kidney stones. (Experts say that children who consume too much protein are at risk in developing "calcium oxalate stones" along with problems in terms of intestinal absorption.);
- Having a ketogenic diet which involves a minimal amount of carbohydrates that directly affects the levels of mineral intake;
- Experiencing cystic fibrosis;
- Suffering from urinary tract abnormalities like dysfunction of the bladder or the kidneys;
- Some inherited disorders from the parents; and
- Undergoing medications such as "furosemide," "allopurinol," and "acetazolamide" which are known to promote formation of urine crystals that leads to the formation of kidney stones.