Can Kidney Stones Be Prevented
While not all kidney stones can be prevented, there are ways to lower your risk of developing one or developing another one. The first and foremost way would be to drink enough fluids to ensure your urinary system gets flushed out well.
Your doctor could recommend that you avoid certain types of foods, but that is an individual call. For certain types of stones, sometimes medications are prescribed to help reduce the risk as well.
If you suspect sepsis, call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital and tell your medical professional, I AM CONCERNED ABOUT SEPSIS.
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What Can I Do To Avoid More Stones
Drink more water. Try to drink 12 full glasses of water a day. Drinking lots of water helps to flush away the substances that form stones in the kidneys.
You can also drink ginger ale, lemon-lime sodas, and fruit juices. But water is best. Limit your coffee, tea, and cola to 1 or 2 cups a day because the caffeine may cause you to lose fluid too quickly.
Your doctor may ask you to eat more of some foods and to cut back on other foods. For example, if you have a uric acid stone, your doctor may ask you to eat less meat, because meat breaks down to make uric acid.
If you are prone to forming calcium oxalate stones, you may need to limit foods that are high in oxalate. These foods include rhubarb, beets, spinach, and chocolate.
The doctor may give you medicines to prevent calcium and uric acid stones.
Services & Procedures
Reaching In And Grabbing It
The shock wave treatment is the most common kidney-stone procedure, but there are lots of reasons you might need plan B instead. Maybe your stones size or placement isnt right for shock waves. Maybe the shock waves didnt work. Maybe you didnt want shock waves, because youd rather have something thats more likely to work the first time.
So whats plan B? Its called ureteroscopy.
And thats when they slide a skinny tube up into you through your bladder, into the ureter, even all the way to your kidney, if necessary. Theres a camera on the end of the tube and a fiberoptic light the urologist watches on a screen. The physician can even slide a laser on a wire into this tiny tube, with which to blast your stone to bits. Then the doctor can thread in a tiny grabber basket to pull out the pieces.
This scoping business has a 90% success rate. It can also handle any size stone, although its best for stones in the bottom half of your ureter.
So how do they get these tools into your body? Well, they how shall I put this? They thread it in the way nature intended for pee to come out.
And yes, if youre a guy, thats a horrific thought. They thread a tube up your you know.
Now, let me stress that youre unconscious for this procedure general anesthesia. You wake up and its all over. Gentlemen, your private parts arent even sore afterward.
The only actually horrible part is anticipating whats going to happen to you.
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What Is A Kidney Stone
A kidney stone is a hard object that is made from chemicals in the urine. There are four types of kidney stones: calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine. A kidney stone may be treated with shockwave lithotripsy, uteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithomy or nephrolithotripsy. Common symptoms include severe pain in lower back, blood in your urine, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills, or urine that smells bad or looks cloudy.
Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. The crystals attract other elements and join together to form a solid that will get larger unless it is passed out of the body with the urine. Usually, these chemicals are eliminated in the urine by the body’s master chemist: the kidney. In most people, having enough liquid washes them out or other chemicals in urine stop a stone from forming. The stone-forming chemicals are calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate.
After it is formed, the stone may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract into the ureter. Sometimes, tiny stones move out of the body in the urine without causing too much pain. But stones that don’t move may cause a back-up of urine in the kidney, ureter, the bladder, or the urethra. This is what causes the pain.
Early Signs Of Passing Kidney Stones
Kidney stones often cause extreme pain while they pass via urine however, all kidney stones are not painful. Some kidney stones present noticeable symptoms while they are passed and therefore give a clear indication that you need to visit a doctor. Some of the early signs of passing kidney stones are mentioned below:
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When Is Shock Wave Lithotripsy Not Recommended To Treat Kidney Stones
Your provider needs to know a stones exact location. Typically a CT scan is performed to identify your stone location and size. Sometimes an X-ray and/or ultrasound can be used as well.
You may not be a candidate for shock wave lithotripsy if you have:
- Hard stones: Kidney stones made up of certain substances may be more difficult to break up with shock wave lithotripsy.
- Pregnancy: Women who are or could be pregnant should not have lithotripsy. The shockwaves may harm an unborn child.
- Infected kidney stone: An infected kidney stone that is stuck in the ureter and causing fevers or chills is a medical emergency and should not be treated with shockwave lithotripsy.
- Special medical needs: Shockwave lithotripsy should not be used in medical conditions that result in increased risk of bleeding, such as use of blood thinners, due to increased risk of severe bleeding from the kidney.
- Very large kidney stones: Shock wave lithotripsy works best on small kidney stones. Your provider may recommend another treatment for kidney stones over 1-2 centimeters in diameter.
Symptoms Of Kidney Stones In The Elderly
The following symptoms are associated with the presence of kidney stones.
In severe instances, these symptoms may be accompanied by
- fever and
Any or a combination of these symptoms should be reported immediately to a medical professional or health facility.
It is especially important to note that if the kidney stones are being caused by an infection- usually indicated by cloudy or foul-smelling urine- not seeing medical attention could lead to sepsis.
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What Does Recovery After Shock Wave Lithotripsy Look Like
As you recover from shock wave lithotripsy, you can expect to:
- Feel sore for a day or two: Right after shock wave lithotripsy, you may feel sore or stiff near the treatment area. Some people notice slight bruising along their side.
- See blood in your urine: Its common to see small amounts of blood in your urine. It may hurt to urinate. These symptoms usually go away after a few days.
- Collect stone pieces that you pass: Testing the stone may tell your provider what caused your kidney stones . Your provider may give you a urine strainer. It looks like a funnel with mesh at the bottom. It collects stone fragments when you pee.
- Drop off the stone sample for testing: You can store the stone fragments you collect in a specimen cup your provider gives you or a plastic bag. Follow your providers instructions. You may need to take it to your next follow-up visit or drop the sample off at a lab.
- Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated helps stone fragments move through your body. Drinking water may also help you avoid constipation .
How Will My Doctor Find Out What Kind Of Stone I Have
Try to catch a stone in a strainer. The best way for your doctor to find out what kind of stone you have is to test the stone itself. If you know that you are passing a stone, try to catch it in a strainer.
Your doctor may ask for a urine sample or take blood to find out what caused your stone. You may need to collect your urine for a 24-hour period. These tests will help your doctor find ways for you to avoid stones in the future.
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What If Shock Wave Lithotripsy Doesnt Work
In some cases, shock wave lithotripsy doesnt break up a stone enough for all pieces to pass on their own. If that happens, you may need another procedure.
Depending on your situation, your provider may recommend a second shock wave lithotripsy. Or your provider may suggest clearing any remaining stones through a minimally invasive procedure called ureteroscopy. Talk to your healthcare provider about the different types of kidney stone treatments.
What Makes A Kidney Stone
What is a kidney stone in the first place? Kidney stones happen when the concentration of stone-making molecules is too high. Or, the good stuff in your urine that stops kidney stones from forming is too low. When urine pH is too low , this can also contribute to kidney stone formation.
cause of kidney stones
About 80% of kidney stones are made of calcium and oxalate. Calcium oxalate kidney stones form when there is too much calcium or oxalate in your urine. Counterintuitively, one of the most important things you can do to prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones is to make sure you are eating enough calcium-rich foods.
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Why Do I Need To Know The Kind Of Stone
The therapy your doctor gives you depends on the type of stone you have. For example, a medicine that helps prevent calcium stones will not work if you have a struvite stone. The diet changes that help prevent uric acid stones may not work to prevent calcium stones. Therefore, careful analysis of the stone will help guide your treatment.
Complications Of Kidney Stones
Some serious risks are associated with kidney stones. Left untreated, a kidney stone can block the ureters or make them narrower, increasing your risk of developing a kidney infection known as pyelonephritis . A kidney infection requires immediate medical attention. Otherwise, the infection can cause permanent kidney damage or spread to your bloodstream, leading to a potentially fatal infection .
While rare, kidney stones may damage your kidney if they cause infection or blockage. Damage to the kidney can lead to a gradual loss of function over time, a condition known as chronic kidney disease.
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Why Do Doctors Examine The Contents Of The Stone
There are four types of stones. Studying the stone can help understand why you have it and how to reduce the risk of further stones. The most common type of stone contains calcium. Calcium is a normal part of a healthy diet. The kidney usually removes extra calcium that the body doesn’t need. Often people with stones keep too much calcium. This calcium combines with waste products like oxalate to form a stone. The most common combination is called calcium oxalate.
Less common types of stones are: Infection-related stones, containing magnesium and ammonia called struvite stones and stones formed from monosodium urate crystals, called uric acid stones, which might be related to obesity and dietary factors. The rarest type of stone is a cvstine stone that tends to run in families.
Favorite Kidney Stone Blogs
CareBlog is the blog of the Urology Care Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting urologic research and providing urologic health information to the public. The blog features information on kidney stones, as well as information on general urologic health .
Want to hear about kidney stones from people whove gone through the experience? Let this website, which was founded by Mike M. Nguyen, MD, MPH, an associate professor of urology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, be your guide. You can read through essential information from experts, as well as patient accounts and contributor articles that answer questions you may be wondering about, such as: Do vegetarians get kidney stones? and Does drinking a lot of water help a stone pass faster?
With additional reporting by Lauren Bedosky.
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Kidney Stones And The Future
For a medical nightmare that affects so many people so traumatically, its fairly amazing how little we know and how little we can do about kidney stones.
Thats why people online talk about herbal remedies or about jumping up and down to dislodge a stone. Thats why were still placing stents, the way we have been for 50 years.
We dont know exactly why kidney stone occurrence is on the rise. We dont know why kidney stone formation peaks in your 40s or 50s . We dont know why some people get them and others dont. We dont know if herbal remedies work, if cranberry juice works, if Crystal Light works, or if Flomax does any good.
There have been studies, one urologist told me, but its mostly soft data.
If you get a kidney stone well, first of all, Im sorry. Its an awful, awful experience and you dont deserve it.
Once youve lived through your first kidney stone, by the way, your next attack may be a lot less traumatic. For one thing, I recommend carrying around an emergency kit: a set of pills . That way, the next time a stone attacks, you can avoid going to the ER. You already know whats happening to you, and you have exactly the same tools that the ER would use: pain meds, antinausea meds, and fluids.
Many people are thrilled to find a community of fellow sufferers online, at sites like kidneystoners.org. I was among them this site was a revelation.
All right: Thats the end of my kidney stone users guide. Now go drink some water.
Blasting Your Stone To Dust
OK then. Its been determined that youve got a stuck stone, and its too big to pass .
In that case, someones going to have to get it out. Modern medicine offers two ways to do it: Blast it or grab it.
Since Ive had both procedures, Id be delighted to describe them for you. I also met with an expert in the treatment of kidney stones, Dr. Joseph Del Pizzo, Director of Laparoscopic and Minimally Invasive Urology at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, to help explain them.
First, your urologist may offer you shock wavelithotripsy.
On the appointed day, you lie down on a special table. Youll either be put to sleep or just sedated enough that you wont remember anything beyond the popping sound of the cannon.
Then they park a rather amazing cannon over your body. In the course of 30 minutes, it fires 2,000 highly targeted shock waves at your stone. If all goes well, the blasts smash the thing into kidney-stone crumbs. In the days and weeks to come, youll pee them out without a care in the world.
The shock wave machine has a built-in X-ray gun, so that the urologist can check the focus every now and then.
Once you wake up, you can go home after about an hour. Youll be really sore for a couple of days because, as my urologist explained, its basically like someone punched you 2,000 times in the same spot. Youll be given prescription pain pills and encouraged to drink a lot of water.
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How Will I Know If I Have A Kidney Infection
To find out if you have a kidney infection, doctors may do tests such as:
- Urine tests to look for bacteria or other signs of infection, such as white blood cells, in your urine
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests to look at your kidneys, such as an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan
- Rectal exam for men, where the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the anus to see if the prostate gland is enlarged and blocks the flow of urine
How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed
If you notice symptoms that suggest you have kidney stones, including sharp abdominal pain, its a good idea to contact your primary care provider, who will refer you to a specialist if needed. Seek emergency care if you experience pain so severe that you cant find a comfortable position to sit in, pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting, pain accompanied by fever and chills, blood in your urine, or trouble passing urine. And even if you don’t need medications to help pass a kidney stone or cope with the pain of passing it, it’s a good idea to see your doctor for a urinalysis test to determine the cause of the stone and discover ways to prevent more stones.
If your doctor suspects you have a kidney stone, he or she will likely ask you about your personal and family medical history to determine if youre genetically predisposed to kidney stones or if you have any medical conditions that could increase your risk, such as diabetes. Your doctor may also ask about your dietary habits, especially those that may increase your risk of stones.
Then, you can expect to receive a physical exam and undergo some combination of imaging tests, urine tests, and blood tests to look for an underlying diagnosis and factors contributing to the stones. Some of these tests can help determine the cause of your stones.
Urine tests may include the following:
Some kidney stones are small enough that youll be able to pass them without any intervention.
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