What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is a hard object that is made from chemicals in the urine. Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. In most people, having enough liquid washes them out or other chemicals in urine stop a stone from forming. The stone-forming chemicals are calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate.
After it is formed, the stone may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract into the ureter where it may cause pain. Kidney stones may form from drinking too little water, exercise, obesity, or eating food with too much salt or sugar. Infections and family history might be important in some people.
What are the symptoms of a stone?
As a general rule, the larger the stone, the more noticeable are the symptoms.Some of the symptoms could be one or more of the following:
What should I do if I have these symptoms and think I have a stone?
You should see a kidney doctor as soon as possible. You may be asked to drink extra fluid in an attempt to flush out the stone out in the urine. Or, the stone may need to be removed with the help of an outpatient surgical treatment.
How are stones diagnosed?
Diagnosis of a kidney stone starts with a medical history, physical examination, and imaging tests. Other tests that may be ordered are a high resolution CT scan from the kidneys down to the bladder or an x-ray called a kidney-ureter-bladder x-ray, which will show the size of the stone and its position. Your doctors will then decide how to treat your stone. The health of your kidneys will be evaluated by blood tests and urine tests. Your health, the size and location of your stone and other things will be considered. The stone will be analyzed after it comes out of your body, and your doctor will test your blood for calcium, phosphorus and uric acid. The composition of the stone is important, as it determines the course of therapy.
Are there any long term consequences of having a kidney stone?
Kidney stones increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. lf you have had one stone, you are at increased risk of having another stone. Those who have developed one stone are at approximately 50% risk for developing another within 5 to 7 years.
What can I do to decrease the risk of kidney stones?
Some general guidelines are making sure to drink enough fluid which can help keep your urine less concentrated with waste products. Most of the fluid you drink should be water. You can reduce excess salt in your diet. You want to try to get to a normal weight if you are overweight. You should try to follow a balanced diet. The remainder of therapy will be determined by your doctor, the type of stone you are prone to, and your general health condition.