A common affliction since centuries, kidney stones have historical references to back its occurrence and is known as the most common disease of the urinary tract.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones (medical term name renal calculi) are masses of mineral deposits in the kidneys or the bladder area. They vary in sizes from a pin-head to a several inches across and can cause severe pain. They can travel to other parts of the urinary tract, the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder.
Smaller kidney stones can be passed naturally by hydrating the body. For larger stones, depending on the size, shape, location, and strength of the stone, a surgical procedure to break and remove them may be needed.
Majority type (about 80%) of stones are calcium-based. Composition of stones make them yellow or brown, smooth or jagged.
The type of kidney stone has direct relation to the cause ranging from dehydration, lifestyle issues, lack of sleep, thyroid issues and medications. Kidney stone is not the outcome of one solid reason, but the risk increases with the increase in the number of factors
Kidneys filter blood to create urine. When the amount of diluting liquid in the urine/urine quantity is less as compared to the concentration of crystal forming matter (calcium, oxalate and uric acid) or
If the urine loses the ability or may not have crystal prevention matter to prevent the formation of crystals
Kidney stone pain rises due to spasms caused by a moving stone stuck in the ureter and due to the urine pressure build-up in the kidney. In the initial stages there will not be any symptoms but the pain is a direct outcome of their location whether it is in the kidney, ureter, or urinary bladder.
Symptoms can be mild or strong but pain begins due to the movement of the stones. Pain may come and go in waves and the severity varies. Males have much greater risk and tendency to get this condition.
Symptoms of the presence of kidney stone can be:
- Severe and persistent pain in the back, side of the body, groin or abdominal area, below the ribs, Fever and chills,Vomiting and,or nausea
- Pain and or burning sensation while passing urine,frequent urination,less urination,Blood in the urine
- Being feverish and cold off and on,Severe discomfort during daily routine activity
- Blood in urine, dis-coloured (cloudy, pink, red, or brown) and odorous urine
- Kidney stones lie dormant till the time they cause pain. The visit to a specialist becomes mandatory one the pain begins, because it is usually severe.
Causes of kidney stones
- Food habits and the amount of processed junk food,high salt and sugar intake
- High intake animal protein,sodium,oxalate, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) used to treat stomach acid,heart burn
- Diarrhoea causing dehydration,diet soda consumption
- Obesity,smoking,diabetes type 2,blood pressure
- Family history of kidney stones,high alcohol intake
- Pregnancy,medullary sponge kidney, Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rhabdomyolysis caused due to damaged muscle tissue due to over exercising
- Low intake of fluids,Dehydration,strep throat infection
- Gastric bypass surgery,Bowel diseases,Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Gout,Diabetes,High level of sweating,Dent’s disease
- Vitamin C supplements, sweetened beverages
- Lack of calcium from your food, excess oxalate or protein in your diet
- Overdoing medications,drugs,steroids,HIV medicines,anti-seizure drugs, bacteria-fighting drugs,herbal supplements, use of cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine
- Avoid high-oxalate foods,chocolate,instant coffee,tea,beans,berries,dark leafy greens,oranges,tofu,sweet potatoes
Types of Kidney Stones
Calcium Stones (oxalate/phosphate): High levels of sweating, less water consumption, high levels of vitamin D, oxalate laden food, highly processed, canned food, condiments and seasonings etc
Cystine Stones: A genetic mutation and is the least common type. The kidneys have trouble reabsorbing the compound cysteine. This causes urine at to load up higher levels and forms stones.
Struvite stones: Urinary tract infection or general infection is one major cause of this condition
Uric acid stones: Eating meat with high protein levels can lead to uric acid build-up in the urine forming a stone
Kidney Stone Testing
Check the medical history of person including the family history
Conduct a blood test to check for calcium/uric acid levels in blood
Collect 24 hour samples are collected to check for mineral content level in urine and level of coagulant compounds
X-ray/computerized tomography (CT) scan to find large and small stones/sonography
Physical check and verification of kidney stone to ascertain the mineral type to know the cause
Ultrasound in first trimester of pregnancy and a CT scan in the 2and and 3rd to rule out kidney stone presence
Kidney Stone Treatment
- Small kidney stones do not need medical help. They pass naturally during the process of urination
- Have plenty of water and pain killers as home remedy for kidney stone and then wait for it to be ejected
- Urine should be pale yellow
- Observe the colour and drink water to keep clearing the colour of the urine if it is clouded or has a darker shade
- Drink water to prevent build-up of minerals in the urine (at least 8-ounce full glasses)
- Speak to the doctor for any over the counter medicine and seek approvals and understand dosages before taking any painkillers or muscle relaxants
- Alpha blockers are muscle relaxants for ureter to help pass stone faster from the kidneys. Mild side effects may include headache or dizziness
- Diabetes and high blood pressure should be controlled with balanced diet and regular exercise
- Avoid excess salt and sugar intake and reduce alcohol intake and quit smoking
- Do regular checks especially to avoid reoccurrence
- Test the actual stone you have passed to test for the kind of mineral and also to check the source
- Avoid high consumption of spinach, tomatoes, soya, sunflower seeds, nuts and nut products, peanuts, rhubarb, wheat bran, legumes etc i.e things with high oxalate levels
Natural home remedies for kidney stone can be tried in the comfort of homes. Juices, detoxification, reducing salt and sugar intake, eating specific herbs etc. Lemon juice, Basil juice, Apple cider vinegar, Celery juice, Pomegranate juice, Kidney bean broth, Dandelion root juice, Wheatgrass juice, Horsetail juice.
A very interesting philosophy developed by humanitarian ManavGuru says that the energy of the body and the energy of the surrounding where the person lives has be in sync with the supreme Universal Energy. Aptly named the ‘Secret of Life’, it has helped bring relief to millions across the globe. Scores of diabetic patients have been cured of this malady using this philosophy.
There are several procedures to break the stone into smaller pieces to be taken out of the kidney or to be passed out. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL- using shock waves), Ureteroscopy using an intrusive scope to search and remove stones- may use laser to break stones if they are big-Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is a surgical intervention into the kidney through the patients back and will need hospitalisation
Kidney Stone Prevention
- Targeted prevention plan is the only way to achieve kidney ailment relief. There is no proven effectiveness of the drugs, or home remedies for kidney stones and no guarantee of a permanent cure. Reoccurrence of stones is estimated to be very high within 5-7 years if no proper care is taken.
- Drink plenty of water or juices. Take care that the sugar or salt levels should be minimum. The quantity of water can be confirmed with a physician.
- Monitor the salt intake to avoid increase of calcium in the urine leading to calcification. Less salt also protects the heart and other organs.
- Also take enough calcium. Less calcium can make oxalates increase in urine and cause kidney stone. Try to get enough calcium from food and not through external supplements.
- Heavy protein intake is linked to kidney stone. Try and stay away from high animal protein especially if you had kidney stone in the past.
- Calcium rich foods or dairy products can reduce the risk of forming new stones
Kidney Stone Complications
- This condition has been associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney diseases, metabolic disorders, end-stage renal failure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension. The complications become a reality when stones are undetected or untreated
- Kidney damage due to the presence of rough stones causing sepsis
- Blocked ureter- Damage to the ureter due to rough stone
- Pain due to the stone and also due to lateral symptoms like nausea and vomiting
- Bleeding during surgery-A UTI- urinary tract infection
It can affect all ages, demographics, genders and background. The past decades have seen a slow and consistent increase in the number of first time cases and relapse cases. This can be attributed to the lifestyle, dietary habits, global warming, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, high stress laden jobs, and lack of physical activity in the current generation.
The best way of treatment is prevention itself and taking care to live, eat and stay healthy. Once it occurs prevention of stone recurrence should aim at better understanding of the mechanisms involved in stone formation.