Kidney stones, also referred to as renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis, are solid masses or crystals that come in irregular shapes and can vary in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. They are formed by the accumulation of minerals and salts within the kidneys, often resulting from the concentration of urine, which leads to the solidification and binding together of these substances.
Kidney stones can harm any area of the urinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder. Depending on the size of the kidney stone, it can go unnoticed. However, even little stones can cause severe pain as they pass through the urinary tract. Although kidney stones can cause discomfort when passing, they typically do not cause permanent damage if detected and treated early.
The causes of kidney stones are diet, excess body weight, certain medical disorders, and certain supplements and drugs. Depending on the size of the stone, consuming fluids and taking pain reliever may aid the healing process, which usually take up to three weeks.
In some cases, a big kidney stone might become lodged in the ureter. The ureter is the tube that drains urine from the kidney down to the bladder. When this occurs, the stone can cause bleeding and prevent urine from exiting the body. A stone that won’t pass on its own may necessitate surgery. In cases where individuals are at a high risk of experiencing a recurrence of kidney stones, preventive treatment may be recommended.
Types of kidney stones
There are several types of kidney stones that can form in the body. The patient may choose to save the pass kidney stone for laboratory analysis. Understanding what kind of kidney stone a person has aids in determining its cause and may provide information on how to lower the risk of developing more kidney stones in the future.
The types of kidney stones are:
Oxalate is a chemical that the liver produces on a daily basis or is absorbed through diet. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and chocolate are among the foods that contain high levels of oxalate. Calcium and oxalate concentrations in urine can be increased by dietary variables, high vitamin D doses, intestinal bypass surgery, and a variety of metabolic diseases.
Calcium phosphate stones are another type of calcium stone. It may be linked to certain migraine or seizure drugs, such as topiramate. This form of stone occurs more frequently in metabolic circumstances such as renal tubular acidosis.
When a kidney stone becomes lodged in the ureters, it can block the normal flow of urine, resulting in enlargement of the kidney and contraction of the ureter, which can cause intense pain. As the stone moves through the urinary tract, the pain it causes may vary, such as by shifting to a different area or increasing in severity.
A kidney stone normally does not produce symptoms until it moves around within the kidney or enters one of the ureters. If this happens, one may experience the following symptoms:
Additional indications and symptoms could be:
If any of the symptoms of kidney stones persist, it is advisable to seek medical advice from a healthcare provider. In cases where the pain becomes severe and is accompanied by a fever and chills, urgent medical attention may be necessary, as these may indicate an infection. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis can aid in receiving appropriate treatment and avoiding potential complications.
If a person experiences intense pain that causes difficulty in finding a comfortable position, nausea, or vomiting, immediate medical attention may be necessary. Difficulty in urinating or the presence of blood in the urine are also signs that should be promptly addressed.
The development of kidney stones is often the result of the presence of certain chemicals in the urine. Typically, these substances flow through the urinary system without issue. However, when there is insufficient urine volume, these chemicals can become highly concentrated and form crystals, ultimately leading to the formation of stones. This lack of urine volume is frequently the result of inadequate water intake.
The urine may lack chemicals that keep crystals from sticking together, producing an ideal environment for kidney stones to grow. Stone-forming chemicals include calcium, oxalate, uric acid, phosphate and rarely, cystine and xanthine. These and other substances are among the waste products produced by the body.
Although anyone can develop kidney stones, several factors can significantly contribute to one’s risk of getting it, such as:
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