Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Reviewed by Dr. Hasan Feroz, M.D.

Overview

Kidney stones are formed in our kidney due to the accumulation of salt and crystals. It can be formed in any part of the urinary system but generally, it is formed in the kidney. It is also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis. it is hard, maybe size from sugar crystals to small size ball.

Kidney stone cannot be noticed until it causes pain and discomfort in the region. It causes intensive and stabbing pain when it blocks the urine otherwise it is generally not noticeable and cause no problems.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

When kidney stones move through ureters it causes the following symptoms:

Severe, stabbing pain in the belly, backpain or groin region.

Blood in the urine

Dribbling of urine

Vomiting

Nausea

Fever, Chills

Frequent UTIs and kidney infections

While small stones which are very small in size and shape may not cause any problems and passes through urine.

How to differentiate the pain from other diseases

If you have pain in the abdomen, lower back or groin area, it is not necessary that it is only the kidney stone but there may be the chances of ectopic pregnancy, appendicitis or UTI whose pain is also matched with the pain of kidney stones.

Diagnosis of Kidney Stones

There are several ways to detect kidney stones but the patient’s physical examination is necessary to assess the possible outcome of the diagnosis.

X-Ray: In a chest X-ray the kidney stone is clearly visible and whether it is obstructing the ureters or not it can also be seen in X-rays.

Ultrasound- Now a days it is very common to diagnose kidney stones with the help of ultrasound. Your doctor may prescribe a KUB test for you to know the exact location and the size of kidney stones with the possible quantities.

Instead of these two tests, kidney stones may also be diagnosed with the help of CT scan and MRIs but it is not common. If you have any other complexities then your doctor will suggest you go for MRI or CT scan otherwise it is not required.

Blood Tests- To diagnose the kidney stones your physician may also suggest you go for certain blood tests like serum creatinine and blood urea to know the functioning of your kidney, blood urea nitrogen, uric acid and electrolytes which tells about the level of uric acid in the kidney and level of electrolyte in the blood which helps in the formation of stones. He may also check for calcium level in the body through the blood test.

Your doctor may also recommend urine analysis to find out crystals, blood and oxalate levels in urine and possible sign of urine infection. He may also recommend the passed stone examination to determine the type of stones.

Treatment options for kidney stones

There are no proper treatment for kidney stones but the condition of the kidney stones may be relieved with the help of certain medications. These are:

Thiazide diuretics to prevent the forming of calcium stones.

Citric acid and potassium citrate syrup to increase the PH levels to prevent the stones from crystals. it also relieves pain caused by kidney stones.

Allopurinol to prevent kidney stones caused by high uric acid.

Disodium hydrogen citrate is used to prevent pain associated with kidney stones and it helps in flushing out kidney stones from urinary system.

Ibuprofen used to relieve kidney stone pain.

Surgery- There are several options to remove kidney stones by surgery. These are as follows:

Lithotripsy- In this method, your stones are generally removed by a shock wave called Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy which breaks the kidney stones into small pieces that can come out with urine without any problem. This procedure requires a small incision in your back and with the help of light anesthesia it is performed.

Tunnel Surgery- In this method your surgeon removed the stones by the operation when the size of stones are big and causes a lot of pain and discomfort and cause infections in the kidneys.

Ureteroscopy- If the kidney stone stuck in any part of the urinary system like ureter, bladder or urethra it is removed by the ureteroscopy where the doctor puts a small tube containing the camera in the urethra and the ureteroscopy snag the stone with the small cage and pull out.

Prevention from Kidney Stones

There are various steps that can protect you from forming the stones. These are-

Drinking Plenty of waters- It is mandatory for everyone to take atleast 8-10 glasses of water which reduces the chances of forming kidney stones. More water intakes don’t let the crystals and salts to form stones. If you have small stones they can be flush out from your kidneys with the help of water.

Increase the intake of citric foods- To avoid kidney stone formation, it is recommended to use citric fruits and lime, soda water which helps to flush out the small number of crystals that later forms kidney stones.

Try to avoid foods that contain a lot of salt and protein rich foods like animal meat. These foods are helpful in forming kidney stones.

Avoid foods like spinach, chocolates, beets and potato chips. Fast foods like pizza, burger and heavy spices food also helpful in forming kidney stones.

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