Worldwide, having kidney stones is a prevalent health condition among the population. It is the most common ailment in the urinary tract and we should be careful not to have them. Kidney stones can cause excruciating pain, thus we should have the initiative to prevent having them or be determined to receive proper treatment when we do have them.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are crystalline substances or chemical compounds that form in the urinary tract. They are often found in the kidneys but can also be located in the ureter or the bladder. They are also called nephrolithiasis.
A person can develop kidney stones when compounds that are normally found in the urine become highly concentrated. The concentrated substances, such as calcium, phosphorus and oxalate, can then form crystals and, over time, can build up to form solid, stone-like materials called kidney stones.
The body naturally expels these stones through urination, which can pass unnoticed and painless. However, when these stones become too large, they may cause blockage in the ureter (the tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder) or the urethra (the tube that urine passes through) and cause excruciating pain.
The pain can happen in the lower back, lower abdomen, groin or genitals. This pain is referred to as Renal Colic, which can also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine, painful urination, fever and chills. It can last in waves of 20 to 60 minutes and may require pain medication to manage the pain.
Types of Kidney Stones
There are four major types of kidney stones. Their identification in the diagnosis of kidney stones will generally affect how a person is treated and what changes in the diet are required.
· Calcium stones are the most common kidney stones in the body. They can be further categorized as calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stones due to their composition. Calcium oxalate stone is formed with a high concentration of calcium and oxalates in the urine. Calcium phosphate stone is formed when high concentration of calcium and alkaline urine is present.
· Uric acid stones can form when there is high concentration of uric acid in the urine caused by a diet rich in animal protein.
· Struvite stones form when there is kidney infection.
· Cystine stones form when cystine is continuously leaked from the kidneys into the urine and forms crystals. This condition is often genetic.
Kidney stones can be expelled out of the body naturally or with the aid of medication. If the stones do not pass through and are causing pain or renal colic, then other forms of treatment may be necessary, such as shock wave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy or percutaneous nephrolithotomy. Treatment is determined by the size and composition of the kidney stones.