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.
Treating And Preventing Kidney Stones
Most kidney stones are small enough to be passed in your pee, and it may be possible to treat the symptoms at home with medication.
Larger stones may need to be broken up or removed with surgery.
Its estimated up to half of all people who have had kidney stones will experience them again within the following 5 years.
To avoid getting kidney stones, make sure you drink plenty of water every day so you do not become dehydrated.
Its very important to keep your urine pale in colour to prevent waste products forming into kidney stones.
The kidneys are 2 bean-shaped organs that are roughly 10cm in length.
Theyre located towards the back of the abdomen on either side of the spine.
The kidneys remove waste products from the blood. The clean blood is then transferred back into the body and the waste products are passed out of the body when you pee.
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When Life Hands You Kidney Stones
And as the saying goes, “make lemonade.” It’s important to consider dietary remedies alongside prescription medications.
Next time you drive past a lemonade stand, consider your kidneys. Chronic kidney stones are often treated with an alkali citrate, such as potassium citrate to help prevent certain stones, if urine citrate is low and urine pH levels are too low . Citrus juices do contain citrate , but large amounts might be needed. Also, be careful of sugar. Lemon juice concentrate mixed with water can be considered. Alkali citrate can be prescribed and is available over-the-counter. Alkali citrate can be given with a mineral, such as sodium, potassium or magnesium to help prevent stone formation. The aim is to increase urine citrate and increase urine pH . The goal is to keep pH in balance. Speak with a doctor or other healthcare professional about which treatment options are right for you, including over-the-counter products and home remedies. People with kidney disease may need to watch their intake of sodium, potassium or other minerals, depending on the stage of kidney disease or other factors.
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It’s Not One And Done
Passing a kidney stone is often described as one of the most painful experiences a person can have, but unfortunately, it’s not always a one-time event. Studies have shown that having even one stone greatly increases your chances of having another. “Most people will want to do anything they can to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” said Dr. Jhagroo. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be the case that people make the changes they need to after their first stone event.”
Research conducted by Dr. Jhagroo shows that those with kidney stones do not always heed the advice of their nephrologists and urinary specialists. About 15% of kidney stone patients didn’t take prescribed medications and 41% did not follow the nutritional advice that would keep stones from recurring. Without the right medications and diet adjustments, stones can come back, and recurring kidney stones also could be an indicator of other problems, including kidney disease.
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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Kidney Stones And Your Diet
Lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of another kidney stone.
Its particularly important to drink enough throughout the day to make your urine colourless rather than yellow or brown. This will help to prevent a build-up of some of the minerals that can cause kidney stones. Aim to drink 2 to 3 litres a day. Water is a good choice, but most drinks will count. Limit alcohol as large amounts can dehydrate you. Depending on the type of stone youve had, your specialist may recommend cutting down on tea. Eating more liquid foods like soup and stew, or fruit and vegetables that contain water, can also help.
For all types of stones, try to eat less meat and fish and more fruit and vegetables. You should also cut down on your salt intake dont add extra to your food and cut down on processed and pre-prepared foods as they often have a high salt content. Losing weight can also help if youre obese or overweight. As being inactive is a risk factor for kidney stones, its a good idea to exercise more. Drink plenty to avoid getting dehydrated if you sweat a lot.
Depending on the type of stone youve had, your doctor may advise other changes to your diet, possibly including:
If you have to take calcium and vitamin D for another health condition, like osteoporosis, take supplements with meals not between them. Drink plenty to flush the calcium through your kidneys and bladder.
Tests To Find Out The Type Of Stone
Finding out the type of your kidney stone will help with treatment decisions and measures to prevent stones from forming again. Tests you may have include:
- A medical history and physical examination.
- Stone analysis. Your doctor may ask you to collect stones by straining your urine through a fine-mesh strainer or fine gauze. He or she will then determine what type of stone it is.
- Blood chemistry screen, to measure kidney function, levels of calcium, uric acid, phosphorus, electrolytes, and other substances that may have caused the stone to form.
- Urine collection for 24 hours, to measure volume, pH, calcium, oxalate, uric acid, and other substances that may have caused the stone to form. This is a test you may do at home.
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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.
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.
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Prevention Of Kidney Stones
Changes to your diet can help to prevent kidney stones. There is information about diet in the section Below.
Your specialist may suggest medicines that can help. The choice of medicine depends on the type of kidney stone youve had. Medicines called citrate salts can make your urine more alkaline and stop the formation of calcium stones. Potassium citrate and sodium bicarbonate can help to prevent uric acid and cystine stones. Treating urinary infections with antibiotics can limit the risk of getting larger stones called staghorn stones.
Signs Of Kidney Stones
Its not uncommon for kidney stones to begin to occur but resolve without any medical treatment. In these minor cases and similar mild cases, its fairly common not to experience any symptoms. However, kidney stones, if left untreated, can enlarge and become infected posing a dangerous problem. When this happens, youll experience:
- Severe pain in the abdomen, groin, genitals, or side
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It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
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.
Take Steps To Bypass Kidney Stones
Even though kidney stones can be common and recur once youve had them, there are simple ways to help prevent them. Here are some strategies that can help:
1. Drink enough water. A 2015 meta-analysis from the National Kidney Foundation found that people who produced 2 to 2.5 liters of urine daily were 50% less likely to develop kidney stones than those who produced less. It takes about 8 to 10 8-ounce glasses of water daily to produce that amount.
2. Skip high-oxalate foods. Such foods, which include spinach, beets, and almonds, obviously raise oxalate levels in the body. However, moderate amounts of low-oxalate foods, such as chocolate and berries, are okay.
3. Enjoy some lemons. Citrate, a salt in citric acid, binds to calcium and helps block stone formation. “Studies have shown that drinking ½ cup of lemon juice concentrate diluted in water each day, or the juice of two lemons, can increase urine citrate and likely reduce kidney stone risk,” says Dr. Eisner.
4. Watch the sodium. A high-sodium diet can trigger kidney stones because it increases the amount of calcium in your urine. Federal guidelines suggest limiting total daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams . If sodium has contributed to kidney stones in the past, try to reduce your daily sodium to 1,500 mg.
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What Tests Do You Need To Diagnose Kidney Stones
Your doctor may arrange some initial urine and blood tests:
- A blood test to check that the kidneys are working properly.
- You may also have other blood tests to check the level of certain chemicals that may cause kidney stones if the level is high. Examples include calcium and uric acid.
- Urine tests to check for infection and for certain crystals.
If you have symptoms that suggest a kidney stone, special X-rays or scans of the kidneys and the tubes draining urine from the kidneys may be done. These tests may start with an X-ray and ultrasound scan. A CT scan may also be needed. These tests are used to detect a stone, to find out exactly where it is and to check that a stone is not blocking the flow of urine.
Emergency Services In Colorado Springs And Texas
If you or a loved one are showing signs of kidney stones, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.
Find the Complete Care location nearest you.
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What Can Be Done To Rule Out Or Confirm An Underlying Cause
Kidney stones are common and they are not caused by any known underlying disease for most people. However, some tests may be recommended to rule out an underlying problem. In particular, tests are more likely to be advised if:
- You have repeated kidney stones.
- You have symptoms of an underlying condition.
- You have a family history of a particular condition.
- A stone forms in a child or young person.
You may be asked to catch a stone so that it can be analysed. This will help to find out if there may be an underlying cause for the kidney stone. To catch a stone, you will need to pass urine through gauze, a tea strainer or a filter such as a coffee filter.
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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What Are The Most Common Types Of Kidney Stones
The most common type of kidney stone is a calcium oxalate stone. This type happens when calcium and oxalate combine in your urine. It can happen when you have high quantities of oxalate, low amounts of calcium and arent drinking enough fluids.
Stones caused by uric acid are also fairly common. These come from a natural substance called purine, which is a byproduct of animal proteins .
Diagram With Kidney Cross
The kidneys filter the blood and remove excess water and waste chemicals to produce urine. Urine travels from each kidney down the tube draining urine from the kidney into the bladder. This is called the urinary tract.
Many waste chemicals are dissolved in the urine. The chemicals sometimes form tiny crystals in the urine which clump together to form a small stone. Most kidney stones are small and pass out with the urine. Some stones become stuck in a kidney or in the ureter.
In most cases, there is no known reason why a stone is formed. Most stones are made of calcium. However, in most cases, the amount of calcium and other chemicals in the urine and blood is normal.
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What Are The Causes And Risk Factors Of Kidney Stones
Anyone can get a kidney stone, but some people are more likely than others to have them. Men get kidney stones more often than women do. Kidney stones are also more common in non-Hispanic white people than in people of other ethnicities. You may also be more likely to have kidney stones if:
- You have had kidney stones before.
- Someone in your family has had kidney stones.
- You dont drink enough water.
- You follow a diet high in protein, sodium and/or sugar.
- You have had gastric bypass surgery or another intestinal surgery.
- You have polycystic kidney disease or another cystic kidney disease.
- You have a certain condition that causes your urine to contain high levels of cystine, oxalate, uric acid or calcium.
- You have a condition that causes swelling or irritation in your bowel or your joints.
- You take certain medicines, such as diuretics or calcium-based antacids.
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.
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