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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.
Blockage Of Blood To The Kidney
A blockage of blood to the kidney is called a renal infarction or a renal vein thrombosis. This happens when the blood supply to and from the kidney is suddenly slowed or stopped. There are several causes, including a blood clot.
Blood flow blockages to the kidney typically happens on one side. Symptoms include:
- severe side or flank pain
- lower back pain or ache
- stomach tenderness
- blood in the urine
What Are Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are hard collections of salt and minerals often made up of calcium or uric acid. They form inside the kidney and can travel to other parts of the urinary tract.
Stones vary in size. Some are as small as the period at the end of this sentence a fraction of an inch. Others can grow to a few inches across. Some kidney stones can become so large they take up the entire kidney.
A kidney stone forms when too much of certain minerals in your body accumulate in your urine. When you arent well hydrated, your urine becomes more concentrated with higher levels of certain minerals. When mineral levels are higher, its more likely that a kidney stone will form.
About 1 out of every 11 people in the United States will get a kidney stone. Stones are more common in men, people who are obese, and those who have diabetes .
Smaller kidney stones that remain in the kidney often dont cause any symptoms. You might not notice anything is amiss until the stone moves into your ureter the tube that urine travels through to get from your kidney to your bladder.
Kidney stones are typically very painful. Most stones will pass on their own without treatment. However, you may need a procedure to break up or remove stones that dont pass.
Here are eight signs and symptoms that you may have kidney stones.
2 ). Some people whove experienced kidney stones compare the pain to childbirth or getting stabbed with a knife.
4 ). Your doctor might call this dysuria.
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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 .
Diagnosis: Too Much Calcium In The Urine
These drugs help to decrease urine calcium excretion. They also help to keep calcium in the bones, reducing the risk for osteoporosis. The most common side effect of thiazide diuretics is potassium loss, so in many cases your doctor will prescribe a potassium supplement to go along with the thiazide diuretic.
Lower sodium intake
The human body carefully regulates its sodium levels. When excess sodium is excreted in the urine, calcium is also excreted proportionally. In other words, the more sodium you consume, the more calcium that will be in your urine. Your goal should be to reduce your sodium intake so that you consume less than 2 grams of sodium per day. Watch out for silent sources of salt, such as fast foods, packaged or canned foods, softened water and sports drinks.
Normal calcium diet
People who form stones sometimes think that because there is too much calcium in their urine, they should restrict their calcium intake. There is no research that supports this practice. Your body needs dietary calcium to support the skeleton. You should be encouraged to consume two servings of dairy or other calcium-rich foods to maintain bone stores of calcium.
Increase fluid intake
No matter what your diagnosis, you should drink enough water to produce at least 2 liters of urine per day.
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Types Of Kidney Stones
Kidney stonesvary in composition depending on the type of minerals in the urine:
- Calcium forms about 80 percent of kidney stones mostly calcium oxalate and, in some cases, calcium phosphate.
- Uric acid crystals tend to form stones in acidic urine. The following contribute to acidic urine: excess weight, chronic diarrhea, type 2 diabetes, gout and diets high in protein and low in fruits and vegetables.
- Struvite forms in alkaline urine, often related to chronic urinary tract infections.
- Cystine is an amino acid that forms stones when in high concentration, due to a rare inherited condition. This is the rarest form of kidney stones.
Stones that form in your kidneys are not the same as bladder stones. Bladder stones develop in different ways. But small kidney stones may travel down the ureters into your bladder and, if not expelled, can grow into bladder stones.
The most common cause of kidney stones is dehydration. Youre not drinking enough water to dilute the concentration of minerals in your urine.
What Causes Back Pain And Nausea
Back pain and nausea often occur at the same time. Frequently, pain related to digestive or intestinal issues can radiate to the back. This can occur if you have biliary colic, a condition in which gallstones obstruct the gallbladder.
Morning sickness associated with pregnancy can cause nausea. Back pain is also common with pregnancy, as the weight of the growing fetus puts strain on the back. Often these symptoms arent a cause for concern for pregnant women. However, when nausea occurs after the first trimester, it may be a symptom of preeclampsia, which is a condition in which blood pressure becomes too high. If youre pregnant and experience nausea into your second trimester, seek medical advice.
Other conditions that can cause back pain and nausea include:
- shortness of breath
- worsening symptoms
Make an appointment with your doctor if your back pain continues for more than two weeks after your nausea subsides.
This information is a summary. Seek medical attention if you suspect you need urgent care.
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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.
Causes Of Kidney Stones
The most common cause of kidney stones isdehydration. Youre not drinking enough water to dilute the concentration of minerals in your urine .;Recommended water consumption is about two liters or half a gallon of water a day.
Water is the best fluid to drink in order to prevent kidney stones, Dr. Abromowitz explains. But water from a well is very high in solutes, which increases your chance of kidney stones. So i f you’re drinking well water, you ought to have a purification system on it. Every year I see patients who develop a kidney stone for this reason.
Other kidney stone risk factors include:
- Too little or too much exercise
- Being overweight
- Eating food with excess salt, sugar, and animal protein
- Weight loss surgery
- Kidney infections. Infections increase the risk of kidney stones by slowing urine flow or changing the acid balance of urine.
- Family history of kidney stones
- Some drugs used to treat AIDS, seizures, and migraines can cause kidney stones.
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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.
It’s 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.
It’s 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.
They’re 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.
How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will discuss your medical history and possibly order some tests. These tests include:
- Imaging tests: An X-ray, CT scan and ultrasound will help your healthcare provider see the size, shape, location and number of your kidney stones. These tests help your provider decide what treatment you need.
- Blood test: A blood test will reveal how well your kidneys are functioning, check for infection and look for biochemical problems that may lead to kidney stones.
- Urine test: This test also looks for signs of infection and examines the levels of the substances that form kidney stones.
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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.
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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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.
Keeping Kidney Stone Pain Under Control
If you are experiencing the intense discomfort of kidney stones , pain control is a top priority. A 2018 analysis of multiple randomized trials looked at different pain relief medicines given to people treated in the emergency department for acute renal colic. It compared nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with paracetamol or opioids. The study found NSAIDs offered effective pain relief with fewer side effects than paracetamol or opioids. NSAIDs directly inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins, which decreases activation of pain receptors and reduces renal blood flow and ureteral contractions.
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Kidney Stones And Pain
Kidney stone pain can be excruciating. Individuals who have never had a stone may be suffering from a great deal of discomfort without knowing why. In reality, kidney stones are generally silent until they begin to pass. A stone that grows to 3 millimeters or larger can block the ureter as it moves from the kidney to the bladder. This movement can cause unbearable pain, usually in the lower back, right / left flank, or groin. ;Kidney stone pain can be intermittent or ongoing.
Pain Or Burning With Urination
If it hurts to pee, a kidney stone may be to blame. Some people experience this type of pain as a stone travels through the ureter, getting closer to the bladder.
But its more likely, Dr. Pearle says, that any burning with urination is caused by an infection, such as a urinary tract infection, than by kidney stones. In one study, 8% of kidney stone patients had a UTI.
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There Are A Number Of Reasons To Treat A Kidney Stone Even If It Is Not Causing Any Painful Symptoms
Recurring urinary tract infections
Some kidney stones may be infected, and in many cases, despite proper antibiotic treatment, the infection cannot be cleared from the stone. In such cases, the only way to remove the infection completely is to remove the stone.
These are extremely large stones that grow to fill the inside of the kidney. There are serious health risks associated with these stones, and left untreated they are associated with an increased risk of kidney failure.
For example, the Federal Aviation Administration will not allow a pilot to fly until all stones have been cleared from his or her kidney. Other occupations also do not allow for the unplanned passage of a kidney stone.
The patient who, whether for business or otherwise, travels to locales where medical care is not reliable may wish to consider preventive treatment.
After thorough consideration of all options available to them, many patients elect to remove their stones at a time when it is convenient for them.
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.
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The Evaluation For Kidney Stones
If your , imaging is often the first step in an evaluation. For many years the standard of care was a type of abdominal x-ray called an intravenous pyelogram . In most medical centers, this has been replaced by a type of computed tomography called unenhanced helical CT scanning. In some cases, such as when a person has impaired renal function or a contrast dye allergy, renal ultrasound may be used as an alternative.
You will also have blood tests, including tests for renal function . Your doctor may suggest other blood tests as well. A urinalysis will be obtained and if infection is suspected, a urine culture will be sent.
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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How Successful Are These Treatments
In short dubious at best. There have been many reports of people using these natural methods, but the efficacy is unsubstantiated. Some people report success, but none of these treatments are based in scientific fact. For every anecdotal success story posted online, there are hundreds more stories of failures . So, what natural remedies DO work?
4. Lab Grade Chanca Piedra
Lab grade chanca piedra has shown high rates of success in kidney stone treatment. This herbal remedy breaks down and prevents the development of new kidney stones. The clinical benefits of all-natural Chanca Piedra are;related to ureteral relaxation and to a putative reduction of the excretion of urinary crystallization promoters such as calcium. It first grabbed the attention of the scientific community in a 2002 study on rodents which demonstrated it slowed or halted kidney stone growth. Further studies indicated lab grade Chanca Piedra actually interferes with the process that would normally cause stones to form.
Professor Dr. Nestor Schor speaking about his research on lab grade Chanca Piedra:
Treatment with Phyllanthus niruri strongly inhibited the growth of the stones and reduced the number of stones
These results show that Phyllanthus niruri has an inhibitory effect on crystal growth