Kidney stones are hard and form inside the kidney and are made up of uric acid, calcium, minerals, and salts. The stones form because of over accumulation of particular minerals in the body and urine. People who drink less amount of water and do not stay adequately hydrated may encounter this problem more than others. Due to lack of hydration, the mineral concentration level increases and give rise to kidney stones. The stones vary in size and can travel to urinary tract and give rise to intense symptoms.
- The size of the stone can be as small as a fraction of an inch and as big as taking up the entire space of the organ.
- The stones travel from kidney to ureter, which is the tube through which the urine travels to from kidney to bladder.
- If you have minimal and small stones in the kidney, then sometimes it may get cleared off from the urine with adequate intake of liquids or medications prescribed by the doctor.
- In most cases however, you may need a surgical intervention for the removal of stones.
Common Signs of A Kidney Stone
Pain in the Belly, Back, or Side
Renal colic or kidney stone pain is one of the most severe pains one can imagine. The pain is quite intense, due to which people with kidney stones often land up in emergency rooms. The pain begins all of a sudden because the stones move in the narrow ureter causing a blockage, building an unusual pressure in the organ. Due to the pressure in the kidney, the nerve fibers activate and transmit the pain signals to the brain.
- The movement of the stone causes the intensity and location of the pain to increases. It is said that the pain is comparable to the pain one experiences like being stabbed with a knife
- Large stones can cause greater pain than smaller ones. The intensity of pain does not depend on the stone’s size but its movement and blockage area.
- You will feel the pain usually below your ribs, at the side or along the back. It may be felt in the groin or belly area as well depending on the movement of the stone down the urinary tract.
- As the ureters contract trying to push out the stone, the pain experienced is like the one that comes and goes in waves.
- The wave of pain can last for a few minutes before disappearing and coming back once again.
Passing Small Amount of Urine Every Time
Due to large stones getting stuck in the ureter, the blockage often causes an abrupt stop in the flow of urine. Or the urine flow could be slow, so whenever you urinate, you may only pass a small amount at a time. If the flow of urine stops completely, then without any delay get admitted to a hospital for treatment.
Urgent Need to Visit the Bathroom
If you are urinating frequently or urgently than usual, then this is one of the initial signs of kidney stones. It may mean the stones have transferred to the lower section of your urinary tract. The urgency to urinate is also a symptom of a urinary tract infection. In both the instances, you may visit the loo frequently throughout the day and night.
Burning Sensation or Pain during Urination
Pain and burning sensation during urination is felt when the stone reaches the point between the bladder and ureter, often known as dysuria. The sensation is like a sharp pain or burning, and many times you may mistake it as a urinary tract infection. This is why it is best to consult a doctor if you experience this symptom. A urinary tract infection is however a possibility due to the stones.
Vomiting and Nausea
If you have kidney stones, then vomiting and nausea are very common. The symptoms take place as nerve connections between the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys experience the pressure, setting off loose motions, vomiting, and nausea, as it is one of the basic ways of the body to react to the terrible pain.
Smelly or Unclean Urine
If your urine is normal, it will be clean without a strong odour. But foul-smelling and cloudy urine is a sign of kidney infection or urinary tract problem. Pyuria or cloudiness of urine is a sign to the presence of pus. The smell is due to bacteria causing infections and the odour too is stronger than usual.
Chills and Fevers
Chills and fevers are some of the symptoms of kidney stones and infection. Shivering or chills accompany fevers. A fever due to infection can go as high as 100.4˚F (38˚C) or above. When the complications increase, you may face constant fevers and chills, which need immediate medical attention.
Traces of Blood in Urine
One of the common symptoms of kidney stones is blood in urine, known as hematuria. The traces of blood may be brown, pink, or red in colour. The blood cells at times could be very small to be viewed without a microscope. This is known as microscopic hematuria.
Tips to Prevent Kidney Stones
Below-given are some tips to ease the problem of kidney stones:
- Doctors suggest drinking sufficient water every day so that you pass at least 2.6 quarts of urine, which may help for small stones to flush out of the kidneys.
- If you have kidney stones, then have more amounts of fruit juices, lemon soda, ginger ale and likes.
- If the stones contain low citrate level, then switch to citrate juices to prevent formation of more kidney stones.
- Reduce the intake of animal protein and salt.
- Moderate the intake of oxalate-rich foods.
Tests to Detect Kidney Stones
Diagnosis of the stones will necessitate a few health assessments and physical exams. Below-given are testing methods for diagnosis of kidney stones:
- Urine analysis to check for bacteria, white cells, blood, and crystals
- Blood tests for detection of uric acid, phosphorous, electrolytes, and calcium
- Examination of stones passes off to understand their type
- BUN or blood urea nitrogen and creatinine to determine the kidney functioning
- Retrograde pyelogram
- Abdominal x-rays
- Ultrasound of the kidney
- Intravenous pyelogram
- Abdominal CT scan
- MRI scam of the kidneys and abdomen
People with normal kidney function may not worry about IVP and CT scan. The contrast dye used in these may cause rare effect in kidney function of others though. Make sure the radiologist is aware of any medication you are currently taking, as some of these could interfere with the dye in the scans and lead to kidney damage.
Risk Factors to Kidney Stones
Below-mentioned are the factors that increase the risk to getting kidney stones:
- Taking medicines for anti-seizure, triamterene, calcium-based antacids, diuretics, etc
- Dehydration or a diet with high level of salt, glucose, or protein
- High calcium absorption due to inflammatory bowel diseases
- A family history of kidney stones
- Gastric bypass surgery, obesity, hyperarathyroid condition
Early signs of kidney stones are severe pain, cloudy or smelly urine, and trouble in urination, fever, chills, vomiting, blood in urine, and nausea. While small stones may pass off by own, the others may need treatment with a surgery or sound wave that cause the stones to break or get removed. If you encounter symptoms of kidney stones, then seek medical help right away.
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