How Kidney Stones Affect Women
While womens overall lifetime risk is lower than mens, obesity, diabetes and associated metabolic syndromes have narrowed the gap, according to Dr. Robert Sweet, medical director of the Kidney Stone Center at UW Medical Center Northwest.
Plus, a recent epidemiological study spanning decades demonstrates that people who develop symptoms from kidney stones tend to be female, with the highest increase in incident rates between women ages 18 to 39. Women also had a higher frequency of infected stones as a result of recurrent urinary tract infections .
Womens risk of getting stones is greater than for men if they are obese, says Sweet. When women who have these other conditions have a kidney stone, they are also more likely to have complex stones that are more difficult to treat and have accompanying urinary tract infections and pain that reduces quality of life.
Ultrasound Is Effective In Diagnosing Patients With Kidney Stones
For patients with large kidney stones renal ultrasound is essentially equivalent to CT scan in diagnosis of kidney stones. CT scan is certainly useful for surgical planning in patients with large stones to define anatomy and decide which approach would be ideal especially when the question is whether the patient needs PCNL.
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What Can Cause Urethra Pain After Passing Kidney Stones
While pain can ease once the stone reaches your bladder, it can become painful again as it leaves your body through the urethra. Passing a large stone can irritate the urethra, but it should be temporary.
Urethral pain can be due to a number of factors aside from passing a kidney stone. Continuing urethral pain should be assessed by a doctor.
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Where Is Kidney Stone Pain Located
The sharp pain associated with a kidney stone moves as the stone progresses through your urinary tract. The most common places to feel pain are in your:
- Lower abdomen or groin
- Along one side of your body, below your ribs
- Lower back
However, while pain is certainly the most noticeable symptoms of kidney stones, it’s not always the earliest sign or even the most telling sign, for that matter.
“The pain associated with a kidney stone typically isn’t felt until after its already formed and is passing through your urinary tract,” explains Dr. Kannady. “In addition, due to differences in anatomy, men and women describe kidney stone pain slightly differently. Not to mention that pain itself is relative and everyone has a different threshold for it.”
Plus, the intensity of the pain isn’t necessarily a measure of how problematic the kidney stone might be or become. Smaller stones that are likely to pass on their own can still be very painful. And not every kidney stone that requires medical intervention comes with gut-wrenching pain.
“Any time you’re experiencing pain, it’s important to see your doctor. But if you’re experiencing pain, even if it’s only mind, in combination with the kidney stone symptoms above and, in particular, if you have a fever or severe trouble urinating it’s definitely important to see your doctor,” warns Dr. Kannady.
What Are Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are small — usually between the size of a kernel of corn and a grain of salt. They can form when your body has too much of certain minerals, and at the same time doesnât have enough liquid. The stones can be brown or yellow, and smooth or rough.
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What Do Kidney Stone Symptoms Feel Like
You’re probably already aware that passing a kidney stone can be incredibly painful. Perhaps you’ve heard someone compare the pain to childbirth. Or maybe someone mentioned their experience with kidney stones completely recalibrated how they rate pain. Ouch.
But while the most-discussed kidney stone symptom is often the pain where it’s felt and how bad it can get it’s not the only symptom to be aware of.
“Kidney stones are fairly common and often painful, but they’re also treatable and even preventable,” says Dr. Chris Kannady, urologist at Houston Methodist. “If you think you might have a kidney stone, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible since delaying care for a kidney stone can lead to serious complications.”
But, when all you’ve heard about kidney stones is how much they hurt, how can you tell if your pain might be kidney stone pain?
Things That Can Help You Take A Pass On Kidney Stones
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Mens Health Watch
If youve ever passed a kidney stone, you probably would not wish it on your worst enemy, and youll do anything to avoid it again. Kidney stones are more common in men than in women, and in about half of people who have had one, kidney stones strike again within 10 to 15 years without preventive measures, says Dr. Brian Eisner, co-director of the Kidney Stone Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
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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.
Removing A Stone With Sound Waves
Kidney stones can sometimes be broken up by sound waves produced by a lithotriptor in a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy .
After an ultrasound device or fluoroscope is used to locate the stone, the lithotriptor is placed against the back, and the sound waves are focused on the stone, shattering it. Then the person drinks fluids to flush the stone fragments out of the kidney, to be eliminated in the urine.
Sometimes blood appears in the urine or the abdomen is bruised after the procedure, but serious problems are rare.
A ureteroscope can be inserted into the urethra, through the bladder and up the ureter to remove small stones in the lower part of the ureter that require removal. In some instances, the ureteroscope can also be used with a device to break up stones into smaller pieces that can be removed with the ureteroscope or passed in the urine . Most commonly, holmium laser lithotripsy is used. In this procedure, a laser is used to break up the stone.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy may be used to remove some larger kidney stones. In percutaneous nephrolithotomy, doctors make a small incision in the persons back and then insert a telescopic viewing tube into the kidney. Doctors insert a probe through the nephroscope to break the stone into smaller pieces and then remove the pieces .
Making the urine more alkaline may sometimes gradually dissolve uric acid stones. Other types of stones cannot be dissolved this way.
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Make The Appointment With A Urologist
While some patients who suffer from kidney stones visit their primary care physician or go to the emergency room for acute treatment of pain, many patients benefit by seeing a urologist. The urologist specializes in identifying the root cause of their stones and outlining proper treatment management for the prevention of future attacks.
If you think your symptoms warrant a more in-depth evaluation, contact NJ Urology. Its better to get an appointment early on rather than wait until the pain becomes unbearable.
When To See A Doctor For Kidney Stones
People often seek immediate medical attention for kidney stones due to the excruciating pain and nausea theyre experiencing. If they havent had stones before, their symptoms can be quite daunting. A lot will say, I thought I was dying, says Dr. Pearle. Always seek immediate medical attention if you have severe pain, vomiting, bleeding, or signs of infection.
Smaller stones often pass on their own. How long it takes to pass a kidney stone varies from person to person and by the size and location of the stone. If a stone is too large to pass on its own or is causing other problems, you may need to have it removed with lithotripsy or kidney stone surgery. If left untreated, kidney stones could lead to kidney damage if they block the flow of urine.
Some doctors suggest taking painkillers and boosting daily water intake to help flush out the troublesome mass. If youre vomiting, youre probably dehydrated anyway, so additional fluid cant hurt. And staying well hydrated does reduce the risk of developing future kidney stones. A type of muscle relaxing medicine called an alpha blocker may also be prescribed to help speed up kidney stone passage and reduce pain.
Even if you think the stone has passed, always follow up with a doctor because symptoms can come and go.
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Drink Plenty Of Water
Flushing your kidneys by drinking plenty of water doesnt just help to keep your kidneys in good health, but it can help to get rid of stones easier.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that you can pass small kidney stones that have mild symptoms by drinking 2 to 3 quarts of water daily. You should drink enough water to pass the kidney stone so that your urine is almost clear.20
What Other Treatment Choices Are Available
About 90 percent of stones pass through the urinary system without treatment. In cases where this does not occur, treatment to remove stones may be needed. Some stones may be dissolved by medicines. In other cases, one of the following methods of stone removal may be needed:
Percutaneous Stone RemovalWhen stones are quite large or in a location that does not allow effective lithotripsy, a technique called percutaneous stone removal may be used. In this method, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back and creates a tunnel directly into the kidney. A tube is inserted and the stone is removed through this tube.
Ureteroscopic Stone RemovalFor stones found in the lower part of the urinary tract, the doctor may pass a ureteroscope up into the bladder and ureter. A basket-like device may be passed through the tube to grasp and withdraw the stone.
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Treatment For Kidney Stones
Most kidney stones can be treated without surgery. Ninety per cent of stones pass by themselves within three to six weeks. In this situation, the only treatment required is pain relief. However, pain can be so severe that hospital admission and very strong pain-relieving medication may be needed. Always seek immediate medical attention if you are suffering strong pain.
Small stones in the kidney do not usually cause problems, so there is often no need to remove them. A doctor specialising in the treatment of kidney stones is the best person to advise you on treatment.
If a stone doesnt pass and blocks urine flow or causes bleeding or an infection, then it may need to be removed. New surgical techniques have reduced hospital stay time to as little as 48 hours. Treatments include:
Kidney Stone Symptoms Vary Between Men And Women
Just as males are more likely than females to develop kidney stones, they also feel symptoms differently. It is thought that the differences in the male and female anatomy are the primary cause. Men feel the pain in their abdomen, lower back or groin region as the stone passes through the narrow ureter. It can also cause a dull, achy or throbbing pain in the upper abdomen similar to the sensation of gastric discomfort. Females, however, express their symptoms as menstrual cramps that escalate from dull aches to grimacing pain.
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How Small Is Small Enough
The smaller the kidney stone, the more likely it will pass on its own. If it is smaller than 5 mm , there is a 90% chance it will pass without further intervention. If the stone is between 5 mm and 10 mm, the odds are 50%. If a stone is too large to pass on its own, several treatment options are available.
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Besides being painful, what arekidney stones?
Theyre solid formations of minerals and salts that crystalize in urine in the kidneys when concentrations are high. They can be as tiny as a grain of sand to pebble-size and larger. And they can develop at any age, from infants to the elderly.
Although some stones remain in the kidneys, others travel through the ureter and into the bladder, explains Howard Abromowitz, MD.
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How Kidney Stones Are Diagnosed
There are several tools doctors can use to diagnose kidney stones, according to the NIDDK. After talking to you about your symptoms and doing a physical exam, your doctor may order these tests as well:
Urinalysis: This is a test of your pee that can show whether your urine contains high levels of minerals that form kidney stones. A urinalysis can also tell whether your pee has blood, bacteria, or white blood cells in it .
Blood tests: Your doctor may want to take a sample of your blood to test for high levels of certain minerals that can lead to kidney stones.
Abdominal X-Ray: This is a picture of your abdominal area that can potentially show the location of kidney stones in your urinary tract. One major caveat, though: Not all kidney stones can be seen on X-ray.
Computed Tomography Scan: CT scans use a combination of X-rays and computer technology to create images of your urinary tract. In some cases you might be given an injection of contrast medium, a dye or other substance that makes certain things inside your body easier to see during imaging tests.
Renal Ultrasound In The Emergency Room
In the emergency room situation, in a patient with renal colic, the finding of kidney stone on ultrasound as well as hydronephrosis is diagnostic. A new randomized control study published in New England Journal of Medicine compared CT scan to ultrasound in evaluation of patients with symptoms of renal colic. This study found no significant difference in terms of diagnostic efficacy and more importantly ultrasound did not miss significantly more dangerous diagnosis then did CT scan. These patients had a very low risk of having another diagnosis that was dangerous.
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What Is A Kidney Stone
Kidney stones are small, hard deposits of mineral and acid salts that form on the inner surface of the kidneys, Roger Sur, M.D., director of the Comprehensive Kidney Stone Center at UC San Diego Health, tells SELF.
True to their name, kidney stones look like little pebbles that can vary in color , texture , and size , according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . In rare nightmare scenarios, they can even reach the size of a golf ball .
Kidney stones are made of minerals normally found in your pee, like calcium, oxalate, and phosphorus, that dont cause issues at low levels, the NIDDK explains. As these minerals start to accumulate and crystalize, they can begin to stick togetheroften when the urine becomes more concentrated, the Mayo Clinic explains, which can happen due to things like dehydration.
Medication For Kidney Stones
For most people with recurrent calcium stones, a combination of drinking enough fluids, avoiding urinary infections, and specific treatment with medications will significantly reduce or stop new stone formation.
Certain medications such as thiazide diuretics or indapamide reduce calcium excretion and decrease the chance of another calcium stone. Potassium citrate or citric juices are used to supplement thiazide treatment and are used by themselves for some conditions where the urine is too acidic.
For people who have a high level of uric acid in their urine, or who make uric acid stones, the medication allopurinol will usually stop the formation of new stones.
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How Kidney Stones Are Diagnosed And Treated
Kidney stones can be diagnosed through X-ray, ultrasound, or CAT scan and are typically found after a person visits the emergency room or makes an appointment with their primary care physician because of the pain theyve been experiencing.
Dr. Propp says most patients pass their kidney stones, leading to significant relief of their symptoms. But some kidney stones require surgery to remove them. Doctors sometimes prescribe medication to either manage the pain associated with kidney stones or to help the stone pass. The smaller the stone is the more likely it is to pass on its own, not requiring surgery, says Dr. Coogan.
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