Kidney Stones - Types, Symptoms, and Treatments

Kidney Stones
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A kidney stone is formed in the kidney and excreted in the urine. It can also stay in the kidney if not excreted through the urine. Their sizes can vary; the small ones can be excreted through the urine and won’t cause any pain, but a larger stone can get stuck in the urinary tract and can even block the flow of urine, leading to severe pain or even bleeding. It is actually one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract.

The term used to describe the stones occurring in the urinary tract is urolithiasis, although it is sometimes called nephrolithiasis; ureterolithiasis is another term to describe a stone occurring in the ureter.

Kidney stones are more likely to occur in men than women. They are also more common in non-hispanic white people than non-hispanic blacks and Mexican Americans. Other conditions that increases the likelihood of getting kidney stone is obesity. Certain food may causes higher risk along with not enough fluid intake.

The formation of stones is causes by concentrated oxalate, calcium, and phosphorus in the urine. Thus conditions such as hypercalciuria is a common cause since this causes urine to contain excessive  amounts of calcium. Hyperparathyroidism is when the parathyroid glands releases too much hormone, and this can cause extra calcium in the blood and thus leading to kidney stones.

There are also different types of kidney stones: calcium stones, uric acid stones, struvite stones and cysteine stones. Each of these originate from a different genetic or environmental causes to form kidney stones. Kidney stones can also vary in size and shape: stones size can range from a size of a grain on rice to a large golf ball.

Symptoms of kidney stones are very painful such as seeing blood in the urine or feeling pain while urinating. Kidney stones are diagnosed by many ways. Urinalysis is the testing of a urine sample where they detect an infection of the urine to form stones. A blood test involves the drawing of blood and it can tell biochemical problems that can lead to kidney stones. Abdominal x ray is used to locate the urinary tract and/or kidney. CT scans uses  x rays and computer technology to make a 3-D image. CT scan uses the injection of a particular dye call contrast medium. It can show the physiological conditions that may have caused the stone to form and the locations of the stone.

There are many treatments as for kidney stones as well. Shock wave lithotripsy is a machine used to destroy the kidney stone. The procedure has to be performed by an urologist. Lithotripter creates shock waves that passes through the body and break down the kidney stones so it can pass through the urinary tract. On the other hand, ureterscopy is used to retrieve the stone with a small basket or to break with a laser.

Anesthesia must be administered as well. Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is the use of a wire-thin viewing instrument called nephroscope is used to locate and remove the stone. But for large stones ,ultrasonic probe that acts a lithotripter, is needed to deliver shock waves that break the stones into small pieces that can be removed more easily.

Prevention of kidney stones is definitely possible with diet and medication. Changing the amounts of calcium, sodium, oxalate and animal protein that is consumed can help. Drinking a good amount of fluids each day is the primary recommended way to  prevent kidney stones. There are different approaches to treating kidney stones depending on the type, but in general larger fluid intake is good.

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