All About Kidney Stones
Its the kidneys job to filter blood and remove extra waste and water, which gets passed as urine. Urine contains many waste chemicals, which can sometimes form crystals that clump together and these clumps are kidney stones. The stones are hard, rock-like crystals of varying sizes and shapes anywhere from as small as a grain of sand to a golf ball.
There are four main types of kidney stones:
Dehydration is a common cause of kidney stones. Drinking inadequate amounts of water for prolonged periods of time greatly increases your risk. If you live in hot and dry climates, or sweat a lot, you are also at increased risk.
Another common cause of kidney stones is an imbalance of substances in your urine, i.e. high levels of calcium, oxalate, cystine acid or uric acid. This can happen if you:
- have an underlying medical condition
- use certain medications to treat conditions such as kidney disease, cancer or HIV
- eat foods high in salt .
While its not common, kidney stones can potentially lead to acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease. This can happen two ways:
Some other symptoms of kidney stones include:
- blood in your urine
- nausea and vomiting
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:
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.
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Risk Factors For Kidney Stones
The greatest risk factor for kidney stones is making less than 1 liter of urine per day. This is why kidney stones are common in premature infants who have kidney problems. However, kidney stones are most likely to occur in people between the ages of 20 and 50.
Different factors can increase your risk of developing a stone. In the United States, white people are more likely to have kidney stones than black people.
Sex also plays a role. More men than women develop kidney stones, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .
A history of kidney stones can increase your risk. So does a family history of kidney stones.
Other risk factors include:
- frequent need to urinate
- urinating small amounts of urine
In the case of a small kidney stone, you may not have any pain or symptoms as the stone passes through your urinary tract.
Rapid Access Kidney Stone Clinic
The Rapid Access Kidney Stone Clinic at the Livonia Center for Specialty Care offers kidney stone patients access to x-rays, CT scans and the option for same-day diagnosis and treatment, all under one roof. All of this is complemented by the improved access to doctors and convenient parking available at the Livonia Center for Specialty Care.
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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.
Should I Cut Calcium Out Of My Diet If I Develop Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stones
If you develop kidney stones composed of calcium, you may be tempted to stop eating foods that include calcium. However, this is the opposite of what you should do. If you have calcium oxalate stones, the most common type, its recommended that you have a diet higher in calcium and lower in oxalate.
Foods that are high in calcium include:
- Cows milk.
Its also important to drink plenty of fluids to dilute the substances in your urine.
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How Are Kidney Stones Treated
Once diagnosed, your healthcare provider will first determine if you even need treatment. Some smaller kidney stones may leave your system when you urinate. This can be very painful. If your provider decides that you do need treatment, your options include medications and surgery.
Medications. Medications may be prescribed to:
- Your healthcare provider may recommend that you take an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or, if youre in the emergency room, an IV narcotic.
- Manage nausea/vomiting.
- Relax your ureter so that the stones pass. Commonly prescribed medicines include tamsulosin and nifedipine .
You should ask your healthcare provider before you take ibuprofen. This drug can increase the risk of kidney failure if taken while youre having an acute attack of kidney stones especially in those who have a history of kidney disease and associated illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
Surgery. There are four types of surgeries used to treat kidney stones. The first three are minimally invasive, meaning that the surgeon enters your body through a natural opening , or makes a small incision.
Foul Smelling Or Cloudy Urine
The presence of stones in your kidneys makes your urine more concentrated. The kidney stones are caused due to crystallization of concentrated minerals and make the urine cloudier, stinky, and darker. The strong or foul smell is often compared with ammonia, but it may be due to a urinary infection rather than just a kidney stone.
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What About Stones In The Ureter
Most small ureteral stones will pass on their own. lf they don’t pass, then another intervention is usually done. Ureteral stones that occur near the kidney are usually treated by SWL with or without moving the stone to a better spot. Ureteral stones that occur lower may also be treated with SWL, but they usually require ureteroscopy especially if they are large .
Medications To Help Pass Kidney Stones
If you are passing a kidney stone, your chances of successful stone passage are strongly related to stone factors including the size of the stone and its location. Small stones less than 4mm in size have an almost 80% chance of passage while larger stones measuring 8mm or greater have a less than 40% chance of spontaneous passage. Stones that are just starting to move out of the kidney have a 50% chance of passage while stones just about to drop into the bladder have an 80% chance of passage.
Wouldnt it be great if you could take something to improve your chances of passing your stone? It turns out there are medications your doctor can prescribe for you which may be effective. This treatment is known as medical expulsive therapy. The most commonly used medication for this purpose is tamsulosin . Other similar medications used to facilitate stone passage include alfuzosin, nifedipine, doxazosin, and terazosin. These medications are known as alpha-blockers and are normally used to relieve prostate obstruction in men or to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension .
How do they work in stone passage?
How well do they work?
The takeaway on medical expulsive therapy
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Are Home Remedies Effective For Kidney Stones
For some people who have had many kidney stones, home care may be appropriate. When passing a kidney stone, drinking lots of fluid is important. In fact, this is the most important home care measure. Medications may help control the pain . However, if it is the first time one has had symptoms suggestive of a kidney stone, it is important to see a doctor right away.
What Are Risk Factors You Can Control
Diet is a factor in some cases of kidney stones. A dietician can recommend foods to reduce the risk of kidney stones. Higher than recommended amounts of vitamin D, vitamin C, salt, protein, and foods containing high oxalates may increase the risk of stone formation. Eating a low-protein, low-sodium diet with adequate calcium decreases the chance of developing stones. A balanced vegetarian diet that includes dairy might offer your body the best protection against kidney stones.
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What Does The Treatment Involve
You will be positioned on an operating table. A soft, water-filled cushion may be placed on your abdomen or behind your kidney. The body is positioned so that the stone can be targeted precisely with the shock wave. In an older method, the patient is placed in a tub of lukewarm water. About 1-2 thousand shock waves are needed to crush the stones. The complete treatment takes about 45 to 60 minutes.
Sometimes, doctors insert a tube via the bladder and thread it up to the kidney just prior to SWL. These tubes are used when the ureter is blocked, when there is a risk of infection and in patients with intolerable pain or reduced kidney function.
After the procedure, you will usually stay for about an hour then be allowed to return home if all goes well. You will be asked to drink plenty of liquid, strain your urine through a filter to capture the stone pieces for testing, and you may need to take antibiotics and painkillers. Some studies have reported stones may come out better if certain drugs are used after SWL.
Do Some Medicines Make Kidney Stones More Likely
Taking certain medicines can make you more prone to making kidney stones. Examples include:
- Some chemotherapy medicines for cancer
- Some medicines used to treat HIV
However, many people safely take these medicines without developing kidney stones. If you think that a medicine you are taking is the cause of your kidney stone, you should not stop taking the medicine but discuss it with your doctor.
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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.
Who Is At Risk For Kidney Stones
Anyone may develop a kidney stone, but people with certain diseases and conditions or those who are taking certain medications are more susceptible to their development. Urinary tract stones are more common in men than in women. Most urinary stones develop in people 20 to 49 years of age, and those who are prone to multiple attacks of kidney stones usually develop their first stones during the second or third decade of life. People who have already had more than one kidney stone are prone to developing further stones.
In residents of industrialized countries, kidney stones are more common than stones in the bladder. The opposite is true for residents of developing areas of the world, where bladder stones are the most common. This difference is believed to be related to dietary factors. People who live in the southern or southwestern regions of the U.S. have a higher rate of kidney stone formation, possibly due to inadequate water intake leading to dehydration than those living in other areas. Over the last few decades, the percentage of people with kidney stones in the U.S. has been increasing, most likely related to the obesity epidemic.
A family history of kidney stones is also a risk factor for developing kidney stones. Kidney stones are more common in Asians and Caucasians than in Native Americans, Africans, or African Americans.
Uric acid kidney stones are more common in people with chronically elevated uric acid levels in their blood .
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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.
Lab Grade Chanca Piedra
The herb is known as Phyllanthus niruri in the scientific world and has been used in many South American pharmacies for centuries as an effective targeted pain relief, help for passing kidney stones, and for prevention of new stone formation. In fact in many developed countries like Brazil a laboratory grade chanca piedra is available by prescription from a doctor. The literal translation of chanca piedra is stone breaker
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Why Do I Get Kidney Stones
Kidneys are essential organs that filter out the waste traveling around the body in your bloodstream. The kidneys create urine to transport the filtered chemicals out of the body. Stones develop from buildup of mineral deposits in our urine that stick together in the kidneys. Typically, these stones develop because of a lack of water to dilute the accumulation of these minerals on the lining of our kidneys. Certain medications, medical disorders , and a family history of kidney stones can also increase your chances of suffering from them.
Because they are known to cause a great deal of pain, it is no surprise that those who suffer from kidney stones are willing to try just about anything to treat them and to prevent them from happening again. Known medicinal treatments include the use of alpha-blockers such as Flomax that relax the lining of the ureter to help stones pass more easily, and medications that treat the associated pain. Additionally, surgical procedures or other non-invasive means of surgical treatment may be prescribed to break up both calcium oxalate and uric acid kidney stones. These treatments include ureteroscopy and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy .
Preventative measures used to halt the formation of kidney stones include dietary and behavioral changes. These involve decreasing sodium intake, increasing water intake to stay properly hydrated, stopping excessive exercise, stopping sauna usage , and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Types Of Kidney Stones
- Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stones. They are usually made of calcium and oxalate , but are sometimes made of calcium and phosphate.
- Uric acid stones form when your urine is often too acidic. Uric acid can form stones by itself or with calcium.
- Struvite stones can happen when you have certain types of urinary tract infections in which bacteria make ammonia that builds up in your urine. Struvite stones are made of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate.
- Cystine stones are made of a chemical that your body makes naturally, called cystine. Cystine stones are very rare, and happen in people who have a genetic disorder that causes cystine to leak from the kidneys into the urine.
Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as largesometimes larger thana pearl. They can stay in your kidneys or travel through your ureters , and out of your body with your urine. When a kidney stone moves through your ureters and out your urethra with your urine, it is called passing a kidney stone. A kidney stone can also get stuck in your urinary tract and block urine from getting through. When you pass a kidney stone or a large kidney stone blocks the flow of your urine, it can be very painful.
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