What are Kidney Stones?
Kidneys which are shaped like large bean, on both sides of the spine are responsible for removing waste substances from the blood. The clean blood returns to the body and waste substances are excreted through urine. During the cleaning of the blood, hard deposits made of minerals and salts form kidney stones. Kidney stones called renal lithiasis or nephrolithiasis may occur in one kidney or both kidneys.
Kidney Stones Symptoms
Stones usually give signs when they enter the ureter. While stones are being passed, they cause severe pain due to obstruction in the ureter.
- The main symptom of kidney stones is severe pain. Pain can be seen in the kidney, back, under the ribs, lower abdomen, and groin. When urinating, you may experience pain and frequent urination. Pain can be felt in waves and with varying intensity
- Changes in urine color and smell
- Nausea and vomiting
- There may be a persistent feeling of urination or more urination than usual
- Although there is an increase in urination, the amount of urine may decrease
- Burning sensation during urination
- Pain on urination
- If the stone causes infection, the urine color becomes cloudy and darker. Fever and chills may occur.
- Blood and sand in urine
Kidney stones may block your urinary tract and cause problems with urinary excretion. In people who block the urinary tract of kidney stones, they lose kidney function in the following period and kidney failure may develop bilaterally.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Multiple factors may play an essential role in kidney stones formation. Combining several factors may increase the risk.
- Not drinking enough water: Insufficient water in the body is an important factor in the formation of kidney stones. Not drinking enough water during the day increases the density of urine-excreted substances and can make urine acidic. In this case, it can cause the formation of kidney stones. People who live in hot climates and sweat too much are also at risk. Lack of water in the body is a vital reason.
- Gender: Men have more risk than women.
- Genetics: If the family has a history of kidney stones, genetic factors can also increase your risk of uric acid stones.
- People who have previously formed kidney stones are more likely to repeat kidney stones again. People who have stones before 25 years old, they are more likely to repeat this disease.
- Nutrition is also another effect to have stones. A diet with high protein, sodium or sugar may be the leading cause of kidney stones. It is necessary to avoid diet in high protein with low fiber food. Especially consuming too much salt in foods increases the amount of calcium excreted from the kidneys and significantly increases the risk of kidney stones.
- Kidney stones may occur in overweight and obese people.
- People with polycystic kidneys or another cystic kidney disease have a higher rate of kidney stones.
- People who have digestive system operation are at higher risk.
- Disorders in urine that increase cystine, oxalate, uric acid or calcium rates increase the risk of kidney stones.
- Drugs used to reduce fluid accumulation, calcium-based antacids, some antibiotics may cause to get stones.
- Long-term use of vitamin D and calcium supplements can contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
- Very often urinary tract infections, Crohn’s disease, renal tubular acidosis(RTA), hyperparathyroidism, medullary sponge kidney, and Dent disease increase the risk.
Types of Kidney Stones
Calcium Stones: It is the most common type of stone. Most kidney stones are calcium stones, usually in the form of calcium oxalate. The appearance of calcium stones is usually either large and smooth or prickly and rough. Oxalate, which is found in nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables, is also made daily by the liver. Diet type, high doses of vitamin D use, intestinal bypass, several metabolic disorders, some medicines, and sarcoidosis may increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate in urine.
Uric Acid Stones: Uric acid stones usually occur when urine is more acidic than normal. Uric acid stones occur in people who do not drink enough water, those who are on a high-protein diet, those who have gout disease, those who had chemotherapy.
Struvite Stones: These kidney stones are usually formed after urinary tract infections. They can grow very quickly without any symptoms. Struvite stones, which consist of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate, are more common in women than men.
Cystine Stones: Cystine stones are relatively rare and frequently recurring types of kidney stones. It is a hereditary disorder that causes the kidneys to excrete too much of certain amino acids called cystine. It starts to appear at an early age and can lead to kidney failure due to frequent recurrence.
Diagnosis of Kidney Stones
A detailed examination of the urologist is important for the diagnosis of kidney stones. Symptoms of kidney stones may be sufficient for the urology doctor in most cases. However, a number of examinations and tests can be performed to clarify the diagnosis of kidney stones.
Blood Testing: Blood tests help to check if the kidneys are functioning correctly. In particular, the rates of substances that may be effective in the formation of kidney stones such as uric acid and calcium in the blood are monitored.
Kidney Stone Treatment
Kidney stone treatment can vary depending on the part, size, and type of stone. Most kidney stones, especially those smaller than 4 mm, can be excreted from the body by their own through the urinary tract. However, small kidney stones can also cause severe pain.
Small Stones Treatment
Water Treatment: Enough water consumption during the day both can play an important role in the formation of kidney stones and can be effective in reducing the stone. Drinking as much as 2 to 3 liters of water per day can help clean the urinary system.
Especially patients with yellow or dark urine color should drink enough water until they reach a clear urine color. Patients who had previously had cystine kidney stones should consume even more water. Patients with different disorders such as urinary incontinence, urinary frequency or renal failure should consult their doctor about water consumption.
Medicine Treatment: Different medicines that relieve the muscles can be used to reduce the size of the stones that can pass through the urinary tract more easily. With the relaxation of the muscles, kidney stones can be reduced faster and more painlessly.
Large Stones Treatment
Sound Waves: Depending on the size and location of the kidney stone, shock wave therapy can be used for stone breaking up. Sound waves to create strong vibrations help to break down the kidney stone from the outside of the body. Tiny pieces of broken kidney stones are excreted in the urine.
The procedure may last about 30-45 minutes depending on the size and location of the kidney stone and the device used. The breaking of the kidney stone with sound waves is not very severe but it is performed under sedation or mild anesthesia as it can cause pain. The method of breaking the kidney stone with sound waves is generally successful in kidney stones smaller than 2 cm.
Ureteroscopy: Ureteroscopy is a method of breaking stones with the help of laser by using a thin lighted tube that can curl the stones in the kidney. The special device passes to the kidney passing through the urethra, bladder, and ureter. If stones are too big to be removed, the holmium laser breaks the stones into small pieces. Then stones are excreted through urine.