Kidney stones are one of the most painful urological disorders that have inundated humans for centuries. Unfortunately, they are the most common disorder of the urinary system and every year, millions of people visit health care providers for kidney stone treatment.
The Role of Kidneys:
The urinary system consists of the kidneys, urethra, bladder, and ureters. Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs situated below the ribs. The role of a kidney is to remove excess water and waste from the blood which results in producing urine. Kidneys are also responsible for maintaining a steady balance between salts, minerals, and other substances in the blood.
What are Kidney Stones?
When that balance is compromised, kidneys tend to develop a hard mass of salts and minerals in the crystalline form separated from the urine in the urinary tract. Usually, urine contains chemicals that prevent the crystals from forming. But when the body gets dehydrated, the urine becomes concentrated enabling the minerals to accumulate and form into a hard mass.
Kidneys stones usually consist of calcium oxalate but may be composed of several other chemicals and compounds. There are four types of kidney stones occurring in humans namely – calcium, uric acid, cystine, and struvite. In most cases, kidney stones are small and can be passed easily without any complications and medical interventions. However, if they are bigger than 5mm, medical or surgical kidney stone treatment is a viable option to take. The stones, if not passed soon enough tends to grow bigger while maintaining its sharp crystalline structure. This leads to the affected experiencing severe symptoms that include:
- High fever
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Reduced amount of urine excretion
- Vomiting and nausea
- Blood in urine
- Pus in urine
- Severe pain in the groin
Causes of Kidney Stones:
The leading factor that leads to an individual suffering from kidney stones is lack of water in the body. Dehydration is the main cause of kidney stones and kidney stones are generally found in patients who consume less water. Lack of water means there is no liquid in the body to dilute the concentrated uric acid, which ultimately makes the urine more acidic.
On the other hand, poor eating habits, medical conditions like urinary tract infections, etc can also cause kidney stones.
How are Kidney Stones treated?
Fortunately, kidney stone removal surgery is not usually necessary in most cases. Stones can be easily passed through the urinary system by drinking plenty of fluids daily (2-3 quarts). During this process, the patients are often prescribed with pain medications by the doctors to ease the process. Moreover, the patients are also told to avoid foods containing certain types of antacids and added Vitamin D. Those with highly acidic urine are advised to control their meat, poultry, and fish consumption as these foods alarmingly hike the acid content in the urine.
Doctors typically try to control hypercalciuria by prescribing certain diuretics that help in preventing calcium stones. For struvite stones, acetohydroxamic acid (AHA) is a prescribed medication. For cystine stones, medications like Cuprimine and Thiola are prescribed.
However, if the stones when diagnosed are found to be larger, either surgical interventions or breaking them up into smaller pieces with the help of kidney stone laser treatment or ultrasound is considered the best possible option of getting rid of them.