Contributed by: Abshar Faheem

The kidneys are one of the most important organs in the human body forming the renal system and tasked with filtration of blood, removal of waste products, maintaining optimum blood pressure, and keeping in check the electrolyte levels. The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that are located just below the spine, on either side. Each of the kidneys measures about 4 to 5 inches in length and is about the size of an adult’s fist. 

Causes of kidney stones 

Your urine comprises many dissolved minerals and other substances such as uric acid, oxalate, and calcium. When the level of these substances is high in your urine, they come together and become kidney stones. Kidney stones are also known as renal calculi, which are tough deposits made up of minerals and acid salts clinging together in concentrated urine. They are also called pebbles of salt and minerals that vary in size. 

Kidney stones can range from minuscule pebbles that can grow larger in size with time. However, in some cases, the stones become so enlarged that they occupy the entire kidney, thus leading to severe complications.  As the name suggests, the stones originate within the kidney itself. However, as the kidneys form sort of a highway to the rest of the body, it often gives free access to the stones to move to other parts of the system, which include the bladder and the ureter (the tube that transports urine from the kidneys to the bladder). 

Generally, kidney stones are static and stay within the kidneys. Yet, in many cases, the stones tend to move from the ureter to the bladder, which is denoted by pain (moderate to severe, depending upon the size of the stone). If a kidney stone moves and stays in the ureter, it blocks the flow of urine of that particular kidney causing pain. Kidney stones aren’t particularly age and gender-specific, still, as per studies, men are more susceptible to the building of kidney stones than women.

 Few risk factors that may increase the chances of kidney stones include:

  • Family history
  • Dehydration
  • Being overweight
  • Excessive glucose, salt, or protein in your diet
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  •  Specific medications include antacids composed of calcium, drugs to prevent seizures, triamterene diuretics, etc. 
  • Diabetes (Type 2)
  • Gout

Symptoms of kidney stones

Pain (moderate to severe) on one side of the stomach or the back is the first sign of kidney stones. If you have a minute kidney stone, it can come out through the urinary tract and you will not get any symptoms. If your kidney stone becomes larger, you may get certain symptoms. Those symptoms include: 

  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Presence of blood during urination
  • You may feel a sharp pain in your back, below ribs, in your testicles (in the case of men), and lower abdomen or belly
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Needing to pee more often
  • Fever and chills
  • Bad-smelling pee
  • Passes only a small quantity of urine 
  • Wanting to pee more frequently

Treatment of kidney stones

Treatment of kidney stones relies upon the size of your kidney stones, what it consists of, and whether it is causing pain or blocking your urinary tract. To solve all these queries, your doctor may recommend some tests. If the size of your kidney stone is minute, your doctor may give you certain medications and advise you to drink plenty of water. Drinking lots of water will help in flushing out the stones through the urinary tract. On the other hand, if the size of kidney stones is too big, additional treatment may be required. 

Medical treatments include:

  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy: In this treatment, with the help of shockwaves kidney stones are split into minute pieces so that they can pass more easily. 

 

  • Ureteroscopic stone removal: In this treatment, doctors use a very small camera that inserts in your urethra to remove the kidney stone. 

 

  • Laser lithotripsy: In this treatment, doctors use heat from a laser to split and eliminate the kidney stones from the kidney, urinary tract, or gallbladder.

Besides, you can try some home remedies including,

  1. Drinking lots of water at least 12 cups per day
  2. Lemon juice
  3. Basil juice
  4. Apple cider vinegar
  5. Celery juice
  6. Pomegranate juice
  7. Limiting sodium and animal protein in your diet

The bottom line

If you get symptoms of kidney stones, talk to your doctor immediately. Early detection of kidney stones may help you in diagnosis. Besides, follow all the precautions your doctor advises you.

 

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