Youve Probably Heard That Passing A Kidney Stone Can Be Very Painful But You Might Not Know Exactly What They Are Or How To Avoid One In The First Place
Kidney stones and passing a kidney stone, in particular are notorious for being painful. Theyre also surprisingly common. In fact, 11% of men and 6% of women in the United States will have a kidney stone at least once in their lifetime.
While kidney stone pain is unmistakable, its also possible to have a kidney stone and not even know it. If the stone is small enough to pass through your urinary tract, it may cause little to no pain at all but if its large and gets stuck, you may have severe pain and bleeding.
Kidney stones that cause symptoms or cannot pass on their own need to be treated by a medical professional.
What are kidney stones?
The kidneys two bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage on each side of the spine filter waste and extra water from the bloodstream to create urine. From the kidneys, urine then moves through two thin tubes, called ureters, into the bladder.
In addition to filtering waste, the kidneys also regulate water, salt and mineral levels in your blood. Renal calculi, the medical term for kidney stones, form when there is a high level of these minerals in the urine.
Are there different types of kidney stones?
Kidney stones can range in size and shape, with some as small as a grain of sand, others the size of a pebble and less commonly, some growing as large as a golf ball. Kidney stones can also be made of different substances, and they are divided into four common types.
The types of kidney stones are:
How Do I Know If My Treatment Is Working
Because cystine stones tend to reoccur, it is important to know your treatment is working and lowering your cystine level. A 24-hour urine collection is a way of checking cystine levels. Your healthcare provider may ask you to do a 24-hour urine collection to check your level. The results will help determine whether any adjustments to your treatment is needed.
Tiny Overgrowths Form Over The Ends Of Plugs
Small overgrowths over the open ends of plugs may detach and grow into stones. The idea has obvious merit and reasonability. But unlike stones on plaque that often achieve clinically relevant size 2 to 3 millimeter, plug overgrowths are often less than a millimeter. I believe these tiny knobs do become stones. We need a test of this idea and I cannot think of one. For example, might we imagine a mark like detached plaque?
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Where Kidney Stones Grow
With that in mind, and to begin with, what exactly do we know?
One thing we know for certain: clinically significant calcium oxalate kidney stones grow in human kidneys attached to plaque deposits of calcium phosphate embedded within kidney tissue.
Another: Calcium phosphate deposits plug the terminal ends of kidney tubules. On the open ends of such plugs ends that face onto the urine small rounded overgrowths form. They contain mixtures of calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. We believe they detach and grow into significant stones stones big enough to cause pain, obstruction, need for surgery. But we do not know for sure because we see and harvest overgrowths only a few millimeters around too small to do much to patients.
Often we find stones attached to nothing. They bear on their surfaces no traces of a prior attachment site. We believe such stone stones form in urine not necessarily attached to anything.
Prevention Of Future Stones
Once your health care provider finds out why you are forming stones, he or she will give you tips on how to prevent them. This may include changing your diet and taking certain medications. There is no “one-size-fits-all” diet for preventing kidney stones. Everyone is different. Your diet may not be causing your stones to form. But there are dietary changes that you can make to stop stones from continuing to form.
Drink enough fluids each day.
If you are not producing enough urine, your health care provider will recommend you drink at least 3 liters of liquid each day. This equals about 3 quarts . This is a great way to lower your risk of forming new stones. Remember to drink more to replace fluids lost when you sweat from exercise or in hot weather. All fluids count toward your fluid intake. But it’s best to drink mostly no-calorie or low-calorie drinks. This may mean limiting sugar-sweetened or alcoholic drinks.
Knowing how much you drink during the day can help you understand how much you need to drink to produce 2.5 liters of urine. Use a household measuring cup to measure how much liquid you drink for a day or two. Drink from bottles or cans with the fluid ounces listed on the label. Keep a log, and add up the ounces at the end of the day or 24-hour period. Use this total to be sure you are reaching your daily target urine amount of at least 85 ounces of urine daily.
Reduce the amount of salt in your diet.
Eat the recommended amount of calcium.
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What Is Shock Wave Lithotripsy
Shock Wave Lithotripsy is the most common treatment for kidney stones in the U.S. Shock waves from outside the body are targeted at a kidney stone causing the stone to fragment. The stones are broken into tiny pieces. lt is sometimes called ESWL: Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy®.
These are what the words mean:
- extracorporeal: from outside the body
- shock waves: pressure waves
So, SWL describes a nonsurgical technique for treating stones in the kidney or ureter using high-energy shock waves. Stones are broken into “stone dust” or fragments that are small enough to pass in urine. lf large pieces remain, another treatment can be performed
What Can The Patient Expect After Treatment
The recovery time is usually fairly brief. After treatment, the patient can get up to walk almost at once, Many people can fully resume daily activities within one to two days. Special diets are not required, but drinking plenty of water helps the stone fragments pass. For several weeks, you may pass stone fragments.
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What Are Kidney Stones And Is There A Natural Way To Get Rid Of Them
The National Kidney Foundation estimates that each year more than half a million Americans go to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems. But what are kidney stones?
Urine contains many dissolved minerals and salts from which kidney stones form. These hard deposits of mineral accumulate on the lining of the kidneys. Every part of your urinary tract is susceptible. Some stones stay in the kidney and do not cause issues. Others may move from the kidney to the ureter . If the stone reaches the bladder, it can be passed out of the body in urine. If the stone gets stuck in the ureter, it blocks urine flow and causes kidney pain. Kidney stones can start small like a grain of sand but grow larger in size, even as large as a golf ball.
Reducing Kidney Stone Risk
Drinking enough fluid will help keep your urine less concentrated with waste products. Darker urine is more concentrated, so your urine should appear very light yellow to clear if you are well hydrated. Most of the fluid you drink should be water. Most people should drink more than 12 glasses of water a day. Speak with a healthcare professional about the right amount of water that’s best for you. Water is better than soda, sports drinks or coffee/tea. lf you exercise or if it is hot outside, you should drink more. Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup should be limited to small quantities.
Eat more fruits and vegetables, which make the urine less acid. When the urine is less acid, then stones may be less able to form. Animal protein produces urine that has more acid, which can then increase your risk for kidney stones.
You can reduce excess salt in your diet. What foods are high in salt? Everyone thinks of salty potato chips and French fries. Those should be rarely eaten. There are other products that are salty: sandwich meats, canned soups, packaged meals, and even sports drinks.
Some herbal substances are promoted as helping prevent stones. You should know that there is insufficient published medical evidence to support the use of any herb or supplement in preventing stones.
- What food may cause a kidney stone?
- Should l take vitamin and mineral supplements?
- What beverages are good choices for me?
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Kidney Pain: Causes Symptoms And Treatments
- Medically reviewed by
Kidney pain can have many causes. It may be a sign of an infection, injury or another health problem, such as kidney stones. Because of where your kidneys are in your body, kidney pain is also often confused with back pain. Talk to your doctor to find out what is causing your kidney pain and to find the right treatment.
How Long Does It Take To Pass A Kidney Stone
The amount of time that it takes to pass a kidney stone can vary depending on the size of the stone. Generally, small stones are able to pass through the urine within 1-2 weeks , often without any treatment.
On the other hand, larger stones may take 2-3 weeks to move through the kidneys and into the bladder.
Stones that dont pass on their own within 4 weeks typically require medical treatment.
2.5 liters of urine each day. Increasing the amount of urine you pass helps flush the kidneys.
You can substitute ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, and fruit juice for water to help you increase your fluid intake. If the stones are related to low citrate levels, citrate juices could help prevent the formation of stones.
Eating oxalate-rich foods in moderation and reducing your intake of salt and animal proteins can also lower your risk of kidney stones.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to help prevent the formation of calcium and uric acid stones. If youve had a kidney stone or youre at risk for a kidney stone, speak with your doctor and discuss the best methods of prevention.
In addition to drinking more water, making modifications to your diet could also help prevent kidney stones.
Here are some foods that you may need to
- frozen meals
- salty snacks
Animal proteins like meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products can increase levels of uric acid in your urine and increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
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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.
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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How Are Children Treated For Kidney Stones
Most childrens kidney stones can be treated with the shock wave lithotripsy , a completely non-invasive procedure. Your child is placed under anesthesia and sound waves of specific frequencies are focused on the stones to shatter them into fragments small enough to be easily passed during urination.
What Causes Kidney Stones
- By Kevin R. Loughlin, MD, MBA, Contributor
Stone disease has plagued humanity since ancient times. Kidney stones have been identified in Egyptian mummies. The Hippocratic oath describes their treatment: I will not use the knife, not even verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.
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The Structure Of Kidneys
Stones form inside the kidneys and the urine collecting system. How they form matters to patients because surgeons can see formation sites during stone removal by ureteroscopy or percutaneous nephrolithotomy. The amount of such sites gives a clue as to future stone risk and also to possible damage done from crystal deposits in kidney tissue.
We cannot discuss where stones form unless you know how kidneys are constructed.
If you already know this, move on. But if you do not lets stop here and review how kidneys are put together.
The linked article is long, so focus only on the cutaway drawing of a kidney that shows the papillae, renal pelvis and ureter. Stones grow on the papillae.
Causes Of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones happen when your pee has a high concentration of minerals and other substances — like calcium, oxalate, and uric acid — that come together to make crystals. Crystals stick together to make one or more stones. Stones happen when your urine doesnât have enough fluid and other substances to keep them from happening.
A kidney stone can be as tiny as a grain of sand, and you can pass it without ever knowing. But a bigger one can block your urine flow and hurt a lot. Some people say the pain can be worse than childbirth.
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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.
Inhibitors Of Stone Formation
Normal urine contains chelating agents, such as citrate, that inhibit the nucleation, growth, and aggregation of calcium-containing crystals. Other endogenous inhibitors include calgranulin , TammHorsfall protein, glycosaminoglycans, uropontin , nephrocalcin , prothrombin F1 peptide, and bikunin . The biochemical mechanisms of action of these substances have not yet been thoroughly elucidated. However, when these substances fall below their normal proportions, stones can form from an aggregation of crystals.
Sufficient dietary intake of magnesium and citrate inhibits the formation of calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stones in addition, magnesium and citrate operate synergistically to inhibit kidney stones. The efficacy of magnesium in subduing stone formation and growth is dose-dependent.
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Swelling In Hands Or Feet
Why this happens:
Failing kidneys dont remove extra fluid, which builds up in your body causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, and/or hands.
What patients said:
I remember a lot of swelling in my ankles. My ankles were so big I couldnt get my shoes on.
Going to work one morning, my left ankle was swollen, real swollen, and I was very exhausted just walking to the bus stop. And I knew then that I had to see a doctor.
Uric Acid Stone Formers
We have thus far concerned ourselves with calcium based stones but one study on patients whose stones contained uric acidbelongs here. One might expect uric acid to plug tubules or perhaps crystallize in the bulk urine. In fact, plaque was about as impressive among the uric acid stone formers as the calcium stone formers, and plugging, too. Plugs could not be analysed, and might have been uric acid or calcium salts. The authors did not say where they found stones growing.
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