Kidney stones usually form within the kidney, where urine collects before flowing into the ureter, the tube that leads to the bladder. Small kidney stones are able to pass out of the body in the urine — and may go completely unnoticed by you. But larger stones can irritate and stretch the ureter as they move toward the bladder, blocking the flow of urine and causing excruciating pain. Sometimes, a stone can be too large to pass into the ureter and can remain lodged in the kidney.
Why some people form kidney stones and others don’t is not always clear. Kidney stone disease is more common in young and middle-aged adults than in the elderly, and more prevalent in men than women. People living in hot climates are sometimes prone to kidney stones because they may become dehydrated more often than those in cooler climates, which concentrates the minerals in their urine and makes crystal formation easier. Medical evidence suggests that drinking too few fluids can increase the risk for forming kidney stones.
Most urinary stones are composed of calcium oxalate crystals — a kind of salt in the urine that’s difficult to dissolve. Uric acid is a less common cause of stones. If your urine is chronically infected with certain organisms, you can be prone to getting different types of kidney stones, as well.
Certain people are frequent “stone formers.” A person who has one stone has a 50% chance of developing another stone within the next 7 years.
Kidney stones may form when the normal balance of water, salts, minerals, and other substances found in urine changes. How this balance changes determines the type of kidney stone you have. Most kidney stones are calcium-type-they form when the calcium levels in your urine change.
Things that change your urine balance include:
- Not drinking enough water. When you don’t drink enough water, the salts, minerals, and other substances in the urine can stick together and form a stone. This is the most common cause of kidney stones.
- Medical conditions. Many medical conditions can affect the normal balance and cause stones to form. Examples include gout and inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease.
More commonly, kidney stones can run in families, as stones often occur in family members over several generations.
In rare cases, a person forms kidney stones because the parathyroid glands produce too much of a hormone. This leads to higher calcium levels and possibly calcium kidney stones.
Several risk factors (things that put you at risk) for kidney stones make it more likely that you will get them. Some of these things you can control, and others you cannot.
Risk Factors You Can Control
- Your diet. Diets high in protein, sodium, and oxalate-rich foods, such as dark green vegetables, increase your risk for kidney stones. If you think that your diet may be a problem, schedule an appointment with a dietitian and review your food choices.
- Being overweight. This can cause both insulin resistance and increased calcium in the urine, which can result in a greater risk for kidney stones.
- Medicine. Some medicines, such as acetazolamide (Diamox) and indinavir (Crixivan), can cause kidney stones to form.
Risk Factors You Can’t Control
- Age and gender.Men between the ages of 30 and 50 are most likely to get kidney stones.Postmenopausal women with low estrogen levels have an increased risk for kidney stones. Women who have had their ovaries removed are also at increased risk.
- Postmenopausal women with low estrogen levels have an increased risk for kidney stones, as are women who have had their ovaries removed.
- family history of kidney stones.
- A personal history of frequent urinary tract infections.
- Other diseases or conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, hyperparathyroidism, or gout.
- Intestinal surgery or gastric bypass surgery.
Symptoms of a Kidney Stone
Kidney stones form in the kidney. If they stay in the kidney, they typically do not cause pain. When they travel out of the body through the tubes of the urinary tract (including the ureters, which connect the kidney to the bladder, or the urethra, which leads outside the body)
The movement of kidney stones in the body may cause:
- No symptoms, if the stone is small enough.
- Sudden, severe pain that gets worse in waves. Stones may cause intense pain in the back, side, abdomen, groin, or genitals. People who have had a kidney stone often describe the pain as “the worst pain I’ve ever had.”
- Feeling sick to the stomach (nausea) and vomiting.
- Blood in the urine (hematuria), which can occur either with stones that stay in the kidney or with those that travel through the ureters.
- Frequent and painful urination, which may occur when the stone is in the ureter or after the stone has left the bladder and is in the urethra. Painful urination may occur when a urinary tract infection is also present.
Conditions with similar symptoms include appendicitis, hernias, ectopic pregnancy, and prostatitis.
For small stones, most people don’t need any treatment other than taking pain medicine and drinking enough fluids.
Treatment for your first stone
If your doctor thinks the stone can pass on its own, and if you feel you can deal with the pain, he or she may suggest home treatment, including:
- Using pain medicine. Nonprescription medicine, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may relieve your pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Your doctor can prescribe stronger pain medicine if needed.
- Drinking enough fluids. You’ll need to keep drinking water and other fluids when you are passing a kidney stone.
If your pain is too severe, if the stones are blocking the urinary tract , or if you also have an infection, your doctor will probably suggest a medical procedure, such as lithotripsy, or surgery to deal with the stone.
Other treatments for kidney stones are much more common than surgery. You may need one of these treatments if your pain is very bad, your stone is blocking the urinary tract, or you have an infection.
Your options include:
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). ESWL uses shock waves that pass easily through the body but are strong enough to break up a kidney stone. This is the most commonly used medical procedure for treating kidney stones.
- Ureteroscopy. The surgeon passes a very thin viewing tool (ureteroscope) up the urinary tract to the stone’s location, and then he or she uses tools to remove the stone or break it up for easier removal. You may need a small, hollow tube (ureteral stent) placed in the ureter to keep it open for a short time and drain urine and any stone pieces. This procedure is often used for stones that have moved from the kidney to the ureter.
Whether these treatments will work for you will depend on the size of the stone, its location in the urinary tract, and your overall health.
Surgery is sometimes needed to treat kidney stones. Surgery is only needed when the kidney stone is very large, caused by an infection (staghorn calculi), blocking the flow of urine out of the kidney, or causing other problems like severe bleeding.
In percutaneous nephrolithotomy or nephrolithotripsy, the surgeon makes a small cut in your back. He or she then puts a hollow tube into your kidney and either removes (lithotomy) or breaks up and removes (lithotripsy) the stone. This surgery may be used if other procedures do not work or if you have a very large stone.
In open surgery, the surgeon makes a cut in your side or stomach to reach the kidneys. He or she removes the stone.
If your kidney stones were caused by a problem with your parathyroid gland , your doctor may suggest surgery to remove a parathyroid gland or glands (parathyroidectomy). This can help prevent future kidney stones.
New Journal of Urology Study
Exposes Risks of Kidney Stone Surgery
As more patients undergo a minimally invasive procedure to remove kidney stones, the rate of complications from the surgery is also rising, according to a new study.
The procedure — called percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) — involves making a small incision in the back and using a hollow scope to remove medium to large kidney stones.
Although the death rate related to the procedure remained low over the 10-year study period, certain complications, including blood infection, have soared. Patients were at higher risk of developing complications if they were older, sicker and treated in more recent years, the study found.
“We believe the broad use of this procedure, especially in older and sicker patients, may be the reason [for the increased rate of complications],” Dr. Khurshid Ghani and colleagues said in a news release from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
For the study, published recently in the Journal of Urology, the researchers analyzed data from more than 80,000 patients over age 18 in the United States who had the procedure between 1999 and 2009.
During that time, its use increased 47 percent, most notably among women.
The presence of other disorders or diseases at the time of surgery increased during the study period, and overall complications rose from about 12 percent to nearly 16 percent. Of particular note, the incidence of blood infection (sepsis) doubled from 1.2 percent to 2.4 percent.
The rate of death related to the procedure remained essentially unchanged at 0 to 0.4 percent. Deaths that did occur were in older patients, the study found.
Preventing future stones
After you have had a kidney stone, you are more likely to have one again.
You may be able to prevent getting more kidney stones by drinking more fluids and making changes in your diet. Talk with your doctor or a dietitian if you need help with your diet. If you have risk factors (things that put you at risk) for having more stones, such as a family history of stones, your doctor may suggest medicines that help prevent stones from forming.
What to think about
You may need more treatment for your kidney stones if you have continuing problems and:
- A lot of urinary tract infections.
- Decreased kidney function.
- A single kidney.
- An impaired immune system.
- Have had a kidney transplant.
Recommended: Cure For Kidney Stones
There is an alternative to the methods widely used in conventional medicine. The real tragedy is that those methods are not yet well known. Kidney stones affect all sorts of people. Men and women, young and old; we are all at risk.
There are various reasons why this knowledge is not yet widely available; there is an awful lot of money involved in the treatment and diagnosis of kidney stones. You’ve got prescriptions, clinical fees, expensive painkillers, the latest imaging techniques, radiologists, anesthetists, surgery fees, over the counter medication. This all costs money.
I’m not saying there’s an actual conspiracy but I would urge you to stop and think for a second. Think of all those people who are paid to treat your kidney stones. Is it really in their best interests to actually go out and find a cheap and natural cure that works?
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Here’s just some of what you’ll learn:
The Truth About Kidney Stones
Learn the facts about the nature of kidney stones and how they interfere with your genito-urinary system. Use this knowledge to defeat kidney stones yourself.
The Five Step Plan to Combat Kidney Stones
This plan is the culmination of my groundbreaking research and it gives you everything you need to know to bring an end to the misery of kidney stones. The plan represents a combination of the latest findings in chemistry, biology, medicine and nutrition. It describes the five very simple steps you need to take in order for your kidney stones to dissolve. Follow my advice and you will see immediate results.
The Post-Recovery After Care System
As well as setting out a plan for making your kidney stones disappear, Cure For Kidney Stones also demonstrates how you can live a life free of kidney stones – forever. Find out the basic changes you can make to your diet and to your daily routine in order to make sure kidney stones never return.
A Word of Warning
You may have been provided with dietary advice concerning kidney stones by your doctor or other medical practitioners. My research has shown that some of the standard advice is not only wrong, it’s actually harmful. Cure For Kidney Stones reveals everything you need to know. Read this now and make the necessary changes to your diet before your pain gets any worse.
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