While kidney stones are a condition which should be taken seriously, their treatment and prevention is usually quite easily accomplished. If you are concerned about kidney stones (which you are), here are a few facts about their symptoms, treatment and prevention.
The term ‘kidney stones’ is actually rather generic, referring to the crystallization of minerals formed in the kidneys (sorry to get all technical). These organs normally remove waste products from the blood, but certain issues such as diets low in water or high in proteins can disrupt this process. If the body lacks what it needs to move these waste products out of the kidneys, they form into stones which are more difficult to remove. As such, rarely will you be diagnosed with the generic term. Instead, the condition will likely be a more specific term such as nephrolithiasis, urolithiasis or ureterolithiasis which, in addition to indicating kidney stones, also hints as to their location.
Kidney stones’ most notable symptom is pain in the lower abdomen (excruciating), as the crystal blocks the urinary tract and makes urination and other bodily functions pretty difficult… Secondary symptoms are usually due to infections caused by wastes not being properly removed. These typically include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, fatigue and others you might associate with bodily illness. Blood in urine is another common symptom, usually because of damage to the ureter due to the stone’s presence. None of these symptoms are conclusive, and a physician should be consulted if any are experienced.
A number of risk factors can increase the likelihood of experiencing kidney stones. Gender is an important factor, as men are more likely to experience them than are women. Age is another, as the likelihood of kidney stones increases over the years. Diets low in water don’t give the body what it needs to effectively remove waste products, and as such they tend to crystallize more readily if not excreted. Similarly, diets high in protein give the body more materials to crystallize into stones. Both of these describe typical western dietary conditions and are probably the most relevant factor in the increase of kidney stone incidence. As many kidney stones consist of calcium, use of calcium supplements increases their likelihood. Also, those who have had kidney stones before are more likely to experience them again.
A variety of treatment options are available. The simplest involves dietary and lifestyle changes to both pass existing kidney stones and prevent future ones from forming. Should this not be sufficient (it usually is), or should existing stones be too large to pass safely, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) is commonly the next step. In this procedure, patients under local anesthesia are x-rayed to locate kidney stones, which are broken up via shock waves. This procedure is highly successful, as the smaller stones can usually be safely passed. Should the stone be lodged in the ureter, Ureteroscopic Stone Removal extends a tube up the ureter to capture the stone, breaking it into smaller pieces via shock waves. A final procedure, Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL), attacks the stones via a small incision in the back. All of these are quite safe, and in most cases the less invasive procedures are quite successful at treating kidney stones.
By educating yourself about risk factors and changing your lifestyle accordingly, you can take powerful and highly certain steps to eliminate kidney stones from your life.
Hope you enjoyed this informative post!