3 Crucial Things to Know About Kidney Stones

Nearly 10 to 15 percent of the world's population will have kidney stones in their lifetimes. Kidney stones are small hard mineral deposits that form in the kidneys and can be painful to pass. People who already have had a kidney stone have a 50 percent higher risk of developing another within 10 years.

Risk factors for kidney stones include:

  • pregnancy
  • diabetes
  • a family or personal history of kidney stones
  • being aged 40 years or older, but they can sometimes affect children
  • a diet that is high in protein and sodium
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • sex, as they are more common in men than women
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • recent surgery on the digestive system
  • health conditions that affect how the body absorbs calcium, such as inflammatory bowel disease and chronic diarrhea

1. Symptoms of kidney stones 
Hematuria (blood in the urine)

People with kidney stones can develop hematuria (blood in the urine). This happens in the majority of patients who have kidney stones. Blood in the urine is a warning sign of kidney problems and should be evaluated by a specialist.

Severe and sudden pain

Sudden and severe pain in the stomach area and/or one side of the back is a hallmark of kidney stones. Pain due to kidney stones often occurs suddenly. People describe it as excruciating, similar to that of labor.

Severe pain that doesn't improve helps differentiate pain caused by kidney stones from a stomach ache or back strain. Pain due to kidney stones can sometimes be confused with back pain. If a stone moves closer to the bladder, the location of the pain can move lower.

Other signs

Sudden and severe stomach and/or back pain and hematuria can be key indicators of kidney stones. But it's also essential to pay attention to the warning signs such as nausea, cloudy and foul-smelling urine, weakness, vomiting, and pale skin. Some types of kidney stones can also lead to infections and fever. If you're experiencing these symptoms, see your physician as soon as possible.

2. Diagnosis and treatments

To diagnose kidney stones doctors use X-rays, ultrasounds, or CAT scans. Most people pass their kidney stones, which provides significant relief of their symptoms. However, some kidney stones require surgery. Doctors sometimes prescribe meds to either manage the pain caused by kidney stones or to help the stones pass. The smaller the stone is the less likely a person needs surgical intervention.

Keep in mind that if left untreated, kidney stones can provoke complications over time.

3. Prevention

One of the good ways to prevent kidney stones is to get enough water throughout the day, since dehydration is considered one of the main reasons for kidney stones. Water helps to dilute the substances contained in your urine that could potentially contribute to kidney stones.

You also need to watch your salt intake. A high-sodium diet has been shown to increase the amount of calcium in your urine. And when calcium combines with oxalate or phosphorus, it can create kidney stones. Keep your salt intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day. If you've had kidney stones in the past, reduce that amount to 1,500 mg.

Limiting your animal protein can also be helpful. Eating too much animal protein, such as red meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood, raises the amount of uric acid in your body. Uric acid is another well-known kidney stone culprit. 

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Thursday, 30 May 2024