Understanding Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are small and solid mineral and acid salt deposits that form within the kidney. Medically known as renal lithiasis, kidney stones are usually formed when certain minerals and salts found inside the kidneys crystallize and solidify.

Most of these stones usually are diluted and get passed on along with the urine. But there are some that can become too large to be passed on through the kidneys through urination and may cause problems.

Causes of kidney stones

The main function of the kidneys is acting as some sort of a filter to remove excess fluid, electrolytes as well as other wastes found in the blood. This wastes are then being excreted from the body in the form of urine. The kidney stones develop when the components making up urine such as fluid and a number of minerals and salts become out of balance.

For example, if the kidneys do not have sufficient fluid to work on, the minerals and the salts begin to crystallize. Sometimes, there can be more crystal forming substances such as calcium and uric acid that can be found in the kidneys that can’t be diluted by the available fluid. Little by little, these substances begin to stick together and form solid particles that become kidney stones.

Symptoms of kidney stones

Unless the kidney stones begin to move towards the ureter that leads to the bladder, a person may not usually be aware of them.

Only when the kidney stones pass through the ureter that the symptoms begin to show. One of the most common symptoms is pain felt in the sides as well as the back just below the ribs. The pain can vary in terms of intensity and can sometimes last from 20 minutes to an hour.

Some people with kidney stones will also feel pain radiating from the lower abdomen to the groin. Others may experience having bloody or cloudy urine and may feel some pain during urination. Some may feel nausea and vomiting and may even experience chills and fever in the event of an infection.

How kidney stones are diagnosed?

Kidney stones are diagnosed mainly through imaging tests. Most kidney stones can go unnoticed until they pass through the ureter. Until then, no symptoms may be felt. Kidney stones can sometimes be discovered during the course of checking for other kidney disorders such as urinary tract infections.

Imaging tests that may be used to determine kidney stones include CT scans, X-rays, ultrasound and intravenous pyelography which can help in determining the location of the stone and the degree of blockage it causes in the kidneys.

How to prevent kidney stones?

Prevention of developing kidney stones can be done through proper lifestyle changes. Drinking about 2.3 liters of water daily may help lessen the risks especially those who may already have a history of kidney stones. Water seems to be the best fluid to drink.

Avoiding foods that contain minerals and substances that may aid in the development if kidney stones can also help in some way.

How to treat kidney stones?

Treatment for kidney stones would usually depend on the type of stone as well as its size. Some kidney stones can simply be passed on through the urinary tract by drinking plenty of water and staying physically active.

But for those stones that may have become too large or cannot be treated by conventional methods may require special medical procedures to remove them.

One of the means that doctors use to get rid of large kidney stones is through the use of shock waves to break the stones into tiny pieces. If this method is not effective, a doctor may opt for removing the kidney stone surgically.