What Are Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are hard pebble-like objects that can form inside your kidneys. Theyâre made of minerals and salts. You might hear your doctor call them renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis.
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 Are The Treatments For Kidney Stones
The treatment for a kidney stone depends on the size of the stone, what it is made of, whether it is causing pain and whether it is blocking your urinary tract. To answer these questions and to figure out the right treatment for you, your doctor might ask you to have a urine test, blood test, x-ray and/or CT scan. A CT scan sometimes uses contrast dye. If you have ever had a problem with contrast dye, be sure to tell your doctor about it before you have your CT scan.
If your test results show that your kidney stone is small, your doctor may tell you to take pain medicine and drink plenty of fluids to help push the stone through your urinary tract. If your kidney stone is large, or if it is blocking your urinary tract, additional treatment may be necessary.
One treatment option is shock wave lithotripsy. This treatment uses shock waves to break up the kidney stones into small pieces. After the treatment, the small pieces of the kidney stone will pass through your urinary tract and out of your body with your urine. This treatment usually takes 45 minutes to one hour and may be done under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep and unable to feel pain.
In rare cases, a surgery called percutaneous nephrolithotomy is needed to remove a kidney stone. During the surgery, a tube will be inserted directly into your kidney to remove the stone. You will need to be in the hospital for two to three days to have and recover from this treatment.
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Whats The Outlook For People With Uric Acid Stones
The outlook for uric acid stones and other kidney stones is positive. Many times, stones pass on their own. You may not even need treatment. If you do need treatment, the treatment options are very successful. Youll likely make a full recovery.
But there is a risk of the stones coming back. Talk to your provider about dietary changes and other steps you can take to prevent another stone.
Whats The Outlook For Kidney Stones
The outlook for kidney stones is very positive, although there is a risk of recurrence . Many kidney stones pass on their own over time without needing treatment. Medications and surgical treatments to remove larger kidney stones are generally very successful and involve little recovery time.
Its possible to get kidney stones multiple times throughout your life. If you keep developing kidney stones, your healthcare provider may work with you to discover why the stones happen. Once the cause is found, you may be able to make dietary changes to prevent future stones.
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When To Visit A Doctor
Visit your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Unbearable pain in your side, groin, abdomen or genitals
- Blood in your urine
- A urinary tract infection accompanied by severe pain or burning sensation while urinating
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Fever and chills
To avoid further complications, we recommended you get treatment as soon as you notice the onset of the stones. Most of us become careless when it comes to a healthy diet and lifestyle, putting ourselves at a great risk of developing several health conditions. Kidney stones can make our life difficult, and hence, need to be addressed immediately. Go ahead and start using the knowledge you have gained to treat them. Also, dont forget to share this article with your near and dear ones you will be helping them as well.
How Kidney Stones Formed
Kidney has the function of removing toxins and waste metabolites from the blood stream. The blood enters the kidney cells, also known as nephrons, and these nephrons are responsible for filtering the blood at various stages. The impure blood enters in to the kidney and a pure blood exit from the kidney. The kidney removes the waste from the body through urine. The kidney stones formed inside the kidney when the concentration of particular ingredients in the kidney is at higher concentration. In the initial stage, the crystal of calcium and oxalate starts binding to each other in kidney. Then, the crystal which is formed in the kidney binds to each other forming a compact stone. If the stone is too small to pass easily through the ureter, if will come out from the body through urine. However, if it is too large to pass through the urinary tract, it will block the flow of urine and also brushed upon the walls of the ureter. This will cause severe pain. It is when a medical intervention is required. The doctor may either try to dissolve the stone, so that it can easily pass through the urinary tract or advice a surgery.
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How Long Do Kidney Stone Symptoms Last
As mentioned, the time frame for these symptoms can be as short as a week or up to a month and beyond. So, even if it feels like your kidney stone pain has subsided, it’s important to reach out to your doctor since sporadic pain is common with this condition.
“While some kidney stones pass on their own, others require treatment such as medications or procedures to help break up the stone or even surgical removal. Your doctor can perform the tests needed to determine whether the stone is likely to pass on its own or if you might need treatment. In addition, your doctor can help you manage the pain associated with passing the stone,” adds Dr. Kannady.
Can Medication Treat Uric Acid Stones
Your provider may prescribe medications to:
- Reduce uric acid levels in your blood and urine.
- Keep your urine alkaline .
- Dissolve the uric acid stones.
Alpha blockers are a type of medication that may help stones in the ureter pass faster. Your provider will talk to you about this option if its right for you.
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Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy
ESWL is used to treat stones that are situated inside the kidney and larger than 5mm in size but no larger than 2cm.
In this treatment, shock waves break up the large kidney stone into small pieces, which then pass out through the urine.
This procedure makes the use of high-energy sound waves that create strong vibrations, which pass through your body breaking the stone into small pieces. The shock waves are focused on the stone under ultrasound guidance.
ESWL consists of transmitting shock waves in the form of vibrations to help break up the kidney stone into smaller pieces. This will then allow the crushed small pieces to pass more easily out of the body.
High-energy sound waves that create strong vibrations pass through your body breaking the stone into small pieces. Shock waves focus on the kidney under ultrasound guidance.
This treatment may also be used when the stone is situated in the proximal part of the ureter and blocking urine flow and causing extreme pain.
This procedure is an OPD procedure done under sedation or light anesthesia and takes about an hour. There is no overnight admission required.
It is contraindicated in obese or pregnant patients, as there are risks for kidney injury with this treatment.
Whats The Urinary Tract How Does It Work
Your urinary tract is vital to your body because it gets rid of waste and extra fluid. Its made up of both your kidneys, two ureters, your bladder and your urethra. Each organ has an important job :
- Kidneys: Your fist-sized, bean-shaped kidneys are located on either side of your spine, below your rib cage. Each day they filter 120 to 150 quarts of your blood to remove waste and balance fluids. Your kidneys make one to two quarts of urine every day.
- Ureters: After your kidney creates urine, the liquid travels through the tube-shaped ureter to the bladder. There is one ureter per kidney. Kidney stones can pass through the ureters or, if theyre too big, get stuck in them. You may require surgery if the stone is too large.
- Bladder: Between your hip bones is your bladder, an organ that stores urine. It stretches to hold about one and a half to two cups.
- Urethra: Like a ureter, your urethra is a tube through which urine passes. Its the final stop of the urinary tract where your urine leaves your body. This is called urination.
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The Causes Of Kidney Stones
Like many other ailments, a poor diet is the leading cause of kidney stone formation. While genetics and environmental factors can play a role, your diet is the easiest thing you can change.
Specifically, sodas and sugary drinks are major culprits behind the causes of kidney stones. This reason being sodas are filled with unhealthy chemicals, including high levels of processed bleached sugar, phosphoric acid, caffeine, and high fructose corn syrup. These ingredients are harmful to your body and especially harsh for your urinary system.
These drinks cause kidney stones thanks to the high fructose corn syrup which metabolizes into oxalate and increases excretion of uric acid and calcium. This combination encourages kidney stone formation at a higher rate than normal. Plus, the phosphoric acid in soda can create an acidic environment in your kidney tract, leading to more kidney stones. Diets high in sodium are also associated with this condition. The amount of calcium in your urine contributes to kidney stones and should therefore be reduced in your diet.
Instead, eat a diet for optimal urological health that is full of fresh vegetables and fruits. Avoid processed foods and sugar to avoid kidney stones and maintain a healthy urinary system. Dont forget to keep hydrated!
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Why You Get Stones
Part of preventing stones is finding out why you get them. Your health care provider will perform tests to find out what is causing this. After finding out why you get stones, your health care provider will give you tips to help stop them from coming back.
Some of the tests he or she may do are listed below.
Medical and Dietary History
Your health care provider will ask questions about your personal and family medical history. He or she may ask if:
- Have you had more than one stone before?
- Has anyone in your family had stones?
- Do you have a medical condition that may increase your chance of having stones, like frequent diarrhea, gout or diabetes?
Knowing your eating habits is also helpful. You may be eating foods that are known to raise the risk of stones. You may also be eating too few foods that protect against stones or not drinking enough fluids.
Understanding your medical, family and dietary history helps your health care provider find out how likely you are to form more stones.
Blood and Urine Tests
When a health care provider sees you for the first time and you have had stones before, he or she may want to see recent X-rays or order a new X-ray. They will do this to see if there are any stones in your urinary tract. Imaging tests may be repeated over time to check for stone growth. You may also need this test if you are having pain, hematuria or recurrent infections.
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Prevention Of Urinary Tract Stones
In a person who has passed a calcium stone for the first time, the likelihood of forming another stone is about 15% within 1 year, 40% within 5 years, and 80% within 10 years. Measures to prevent the formation of new stones vary, depending on the composition of the existing stones.
Drinking large amounts of fluids8 to 10 ten-ounce glasses a dayis recommended for prevention of all stones. People should drink enough fluid to produce more than about 2 quarts of urine per day. Other preventive measures depend somewhat on the type of stone.
Is There Any Way To Make Them Pass Faster
The best home remedy to encourage the stone to pass is to drink lots of fluids, especially plain water and citrus juices such as orange or grapefruit. The extra fluid causes you to urinate more, which helps the stone move and keeps it from growing. You should aim for at least 2 to 3 quarts of water per day.
Smaller stones are more likely to pass on their own, so you should take steps to keep the stone from growing. This includes eating a diet thats low in salt, calcium, and protein.
However, you need all of these for your body to function properly, so talk with your doctor about an appropriate diet to help you pass the stone.
Passing a kidney stone can be very painful. Taking pain medication such as ibuprofen wont speed up the process, but it can make you a lot more comfortable while passing the stone. A heating pad can also help.
If you have a fever, significant nausea, or are unable to keep down liquids without vomiting, you should seek medical care.
Likewise, if you have only one kidney or known kidney problems or damage, see a doctor immediately.
An infected kidney stone is a surgical emergency. If you notice any signs of infection, go to the hospital.
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
If heart disease, cancer, depression and chronic pain arenÃ¢t strong enough motivators to maintain a healthy weight then how about kidney stone prevention? Obesity has been linked to kidney stone formation.
There are multiple reasons why obesity is linked to kidney stones. One reason is dietary. If youÃ¢re eating processed foods and sugar then youÃ¢re increasing your weight along with the sodium and uric acid excretion by your kidneys. Sodium and uric acid cause kidney stones.
Obesity is also a state of inflammation. This causes everything from changes to the healthy bacteria in your gut to something called metabolic syndrome. I wonÃ¢t bore you with too much science but needless to say losing some weight can be an effective home remedy for kidney stones.
Weight loss as a home remedy for kidney stones? â Miracle. ThereÃ¢s no doubt that being overweight or obese increases your risk for kidney stones.
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- fever and chills
- urine that smells bad or looks cloudy
The kidney stone starts to hurt when it causes irritation or blockage. This builds rapidly to extreme pain. In most cases, kidney stones pass without causing damage-but usually not without causing a lot of pain. Pain relievers may be the only treatment needed for small stones. Other treatment may be needed, especially for those stones that cause lasting symptoms or other complications. In severe cases, however, surgery may be required.
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Let Kidney Stones Pass
Stones typically take several weeks to a few months to pass, depending on the number of stones and their size. Over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen , acetaminophen , or naproxen , can help you endure the discomfort until the stones pass. Your doctor also may prescribe an alpha blocker, which relaxes the muscles in your ureter and helps pass stones quicker and with less pain.
If the pain becomes too severe, or if they are too large to pass, they can be surgically removed with a procedure called a ureteroscopy. Here, a small endoscope is passed into the bladder and up the ureter while you are under general anesthesia. A laser breaks up the stones, and then the fragments are removed.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
- Do I have a kidney stone or is there another reason for my symptoms?
- What type of kidney stone do I have?
- What size is my kidney stone?
- Where is my kidney stone located?
- How many kidney stones do I have?
- Do I need treatment or will I be able to pass the kidney stone?
- Should I be tested for kidney disease?
- What changes should I make to my diet?
- What type of procedure should I have to get rid of the stones?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Kidney stones can be frustrating at best and agonizingly painful at the worst. To stop your situation from getting worse, you should be evaluated by a healthcare provider as soon as possible. The pain can get severe, and surgery might be necessary. Remember: dont skip your prescriptions, drink lots of water and follow any dietary guidelines. Also, remember that kidney stones are a temporary condition. They wont bother you forever.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/03/2021.
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