Kidneys play a major role in the human body. They purify blood from impurities and excrete the waste products of the body as urine. Maintaining the electrolyte balance is also an important work of the kidney.
More About Kidney Stones:
Kidney stones are hard crystalline masses formed from crystalline substances in the urine. Stones formed by calcium in combination with other substances, such as oxalate that occurs in food, are quite common. Stones can be formed in the kidney (nephrolithiasis) or can be found in the urinary tract (urolithiasis).
Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis of Kidney Stones:
Dehydration, or not drinking enough water, is a major cause of kidney stones. Certain sections of the population—such as overweight people, people with gout, people with a family history of kidney stones, and people who take certain medications like diuretics or antacids, have an increased risk of kidney stones. Symptoms of kidney stones include severe pain while passing urine or piercing pain in the back or lower abdomen for a short or long period of time. Men experience severe groin pain. Some people pass blood along with urine. Nausea and vomiting are also experienced by some, along with the pain.
A kidney stone can be located using an x-ray and ultrasound examination of the kidney. An MRI, intravenous pyelography (IVP), and abdominal CT scan can also be used for identifying a kidney stone. Urine analysis and blood tests are also conducted to find the substances that cause the stone and the biochemical reasons for it, respectively.
Treatment of Kidney Stones:
The treatment of the kidney stone depends primarily on the size of the stone, the cause of the stone, and whether it obstructs the urine flow.
Small Stones: Small stones from 4 mm to 0.2 cm do not require any treatment and can easily be passed by drinking lot of fluids and taking pain medications and alpha blockers.
Drinking around 1.9 to 2.8 liters of water every day will help to clear the urine and pass the stone. Pain relievers are prescribed to help relieve the pain and discomfort that passing a stone might cause. Alpha blockers are medications that relax the muscles of the urethra, aiding in passing of the stones more easily.
Larger Stones: Larger stones need medical intervention as they cause pain and do not pass on their own.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): This uses sound waves to break large stones to smaller ones so that they pass out through the urine. However, the procedure is done under anesthesia with chances of pain and bruising in the abdomen area and bleeding internally around the kidneys and other organs.
Ureteroscopy: This treatment involves passing a small tube called a “ureteroscope” up the urethra to locate the stone to remove it or break it down into smaller stones. This treatment is effective for smaller stones.
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: In this treatment, a nephroscope is inserted into the person’s kidney by a urologist through an incision in the person’s back. Smaller stones are pulled out, while bigger ones are broken down into smaller stones. A small tube is also inserted into the incision to remove any small fragments of stone and urine into a bag attached to it.
Kidney stones are a painful condition and can obstruct urine flow. It is to be understood that kidney stones cannot be entirely prevented from forming. However, people can save themselves from the discomforts of the stone and the treatments by practicing simple measures like drinking lots of water to avert dehydration and being careful with the diet they consume.