Kidney stones are a painful disorder of the urinary tract, affecting about 10% of Americans. Stones occur 2 times more often in men than in women. The pain of having a stone has been compared to that of childbirth. The stones grow slowly over several months or years and are made of hard deposits of various minerals, including calcium, uric acid, and oxalate.
Asymptomatic stones may be found by an x-ray for an unrelated condition. Or you may have symptoms such as :
- Sudden onset of excruciating pain in the buttocks area
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constant movement to relieve the pain
- Pain in the genital area as the stone moves
- Fever and chills
- Increased age
People develop kidney stones because :
- Their small bowel absorbs too much calcium
- Their diets are too high in calcium or another mineral
- They have intestinal problems
- Urinary tract infections
- They may have inherited a certain disorder that makes their bodies more likely to form kidney stones
- Other factors that increase the risk of kidney stones include:
- Not drinking enough fluids (especially in the summer)
- Not exercising enough, or a sedentary lifestyle
- Hypertension, which makes people nearly 3 times more likely to develop kidney stones
- Poor dietary habits
- Metabolic syndrome
- Family history of kidney stones
- Continual exposure to high temperatures, which makes people nearly 8 times more likely to form kidney stones
- Other medical conditions, such as gout, chronic diarrhoea, certain cancers, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
In about 85% of cases, kidney stones are small enough to pass during urination. Passing usually occurs within 72 hours of the first symptoms. Taking pain relievers and drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, plus one at bedtime and another during the night, usually enables the stone to pass more easily. You may need to urinate through a strainer to collect the stone and give it to your doctor for analysis. Surgery may be required for stones that are too large to pass on their own, or that may cause bleeding or tissue damage.
Surgery is recommended for patients with severe pain that does not respond to medications, for those with serious bleeding, and persistent fever, nausea, or significant urinary obstruction. If no medical treatment is provided after surgery, stones recur in 50% of patients within 5 years. Some of the methods of surgery are :
- Urethroscopy: A diagnostic procedure for identifying stones in the lower third of the ureter
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL): An outpatient procedure in which shock waves are used to shatter stones under 1 cm so they can pass more easily
- Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy: A surgical procedure for removing large or dense kidney stones during which the doctor inserts instruments into the kidney to break up stones
These nutritional tips may help promote overall health and prevent recurrence of kidney stones :
- Eat antioxidant-rich foods. Low antioxidant intake is associated with stone formation.
- Eat more high fibre foods, including beans, oats, and root vegetables.
- Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats, cold-water fish, tofu (soy, if no allergy is present) or beans for protein.
- Avoid coffee and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of filtered water daily. Some experts recommend doubling previous fluid intake after a stone diagnosis.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week.
- Reduce sodium and sugar intake, both of which are linked to increased risk of stone formation.
- Complementary and Alternative Therapies
- Kidney stones require conventional medical attention. Do not treat kidney stones with alternative therapies. Alternative therapies may help aid in reducing the risk of recurrent episodes and increasing the overall vitality of the urogenital system.