Kidney Stone (Nephrolithiasis)

Table of Contents

Kidney stones or nephrolithiasis are large amounts of minerals and salts that build up in the kidneys. The stones may come in different shapes and types. Kidney stones are usually caused by foods and drinks that contain certain chemicals. Generally, kidney stones do not come in a massive size – they are usually as big as corn grains or salt grains. The stones can be yellow or brown in color. As for the texture of the stones, they can be either soft or rough.

Kidney stones occur in the urinary tract, starting from the kidneys, the ureters that carry urine to the bladder, to the urethra, which passes urine out of the body.

Kidney stone conditions are a fairly common condition and usually affect people over the age of 40. Both men and women have the potential to develop symptoms of kidney stones. However, kidney stones are more common to develop in men than women.

Symptoms of kidney stones can develop in one or both of your kidneys. This condition can cause excruciating pain and lead to kidney infection if not treated immediately. 

Causes of Kidney Stone (Nephrolithiasis)

The chemical content found in certain foods and drinks may cause you to develop symptoms of kidney stones. The waste from these chemical substances will remain in your blood and form crystals accumulated in the kidneys. Over time, the collected crystals will form a hard stone-like lump.

Crystallized waste is usually more likely to form if you:

  • Drink insufficient quantities of water.
  • Take several types of medications at the same time.
  • Have certain conditions that increase the levels of certain substances in the urine.

Kidney stones form when urine has very high levels of minerals such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. If you do not have enough urine to reduce the high concentration of minerals, then stones will form.

If you have dealt with repeated symptoms even though you have been given treatment, your habits may be the reasons why symptoms of kidney stones are still difficult to relieve. These habits include:

  • Consumption of food that is high in protein but excessively low in fiber.
  • Lack of physical activity or being sedentary.
  • Have a family history of kidney stones.
  • Have had kidney failure or urinary infection.
  • Have had kidney stones when you were under 25 years old.

Certain types medications can also trigger stones in the kidney if consumed in excess, such as:

  • Aspirin, medicines to cure fever and blood thinners.
  • Antacids, medicines to neutralize stomach acid levels.
  • Diuretics, medicines to increase the speed at which urine is formed.
  • Medicines for the treatment of HIV patients.
  • Certain types of antibiotics.

When to See a Doctor for Kidney Stone (Nephrolithiasis)?

Diagnosis of kidney stones or nephrolithiasis can be done by a urologist. To confirm the symptoms of kidney stones, your urologist will perform a series of tests such as:

  • Urine test to check for infection and stone cuts.
  • Examination of stones that pass when urinating.
  • Blood tests to determine whether the kidneys are still functioning properly and the levels of certain substances in the body that cause kidney stones.

Your doctor may provide you with certain equipment/tools to collect the stones that pass when urinating. The stones will then be analyzed to determine the suitable treatment for you..

If the kidney stones are acute and urine tests do not work, you will be advised to undergo additional test such as: 

  • X-ray of the kidneys to see which stones are inside the kidney. However, this method will only show stones that are large enough and cannot detect small stones.
  • CT Scan by capturing images from several points of view. These images will then be put together using a computer to show clearly the condition in the kidney.
  • Ultrasound uses sound waves to observe conditions in the kidneys.

Symptoms of Kidney Stone (Nephrolithiasis)

Small sized kidney stones rarely cause symptoms. In fact, small-sized stones are difficult to detect as you pass them out through urinating.

Meanwhile, larger kidney stones may cause symptoms such as:

  • High body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloody urine
  • Urine infection
  • Pain in the abdomen (in some cases, men feel pain in the testicles)

Symptoms of kidney stones do not always emerge right after the stone has grown. Normally, a patient will feel the symptoms after the stone gets bigger and moves around the kidney to the ureter.

When the stone starts moving, the patient may feel pain in the lower back and feel the urge of constant urination. When urinating, the patient will feel a burning sensation in the bladder.

Treatment for Kidney Stone (Nephrolithiasis)

Small kidney stones are often difficult to detect and do not cause certain symptoms. However, they still need to be treated so that they do not affect the kidneys’ performance.

Your doctor may recommend treatment such as:

  • Anti-nausea medicines
  • Drink more water 
  • Take pain relievers such as ibuprofen
  • Alpha-blocker medications to make it easier for stones to pass through the urine

To treat larger kidney stones, more significant treatment is required. Large stones can only be removed through surgery.

Common surgical procedures to remove large kidney stones are:

  • Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL). This procedure is performed by breaking stones from outside the body using shock waves from certain medical instruments. The broken stone will then pass through the urine.
  • Ureteroscopy. This procedure is performed using a long, small tube with a camera attached to the end. The tube will be inserted into the body through the ureter and bladder.
  • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL). This procedure is a minimally invasive procedure to remove kidney stones.

While waiting for the stone to pass through the urine, the patient will be given medication to consume. These medications usually work to relieve pain or other discomfort experienced.

Treatment Cost for Kidney Stone (Nephrolithiasis)

The cost for Kidney Stone (Nephrolithiasis) treatment varies, depending on the number and size of kidney stonse and the treatment method recommended by the doctor.

For more information regarding the estimated costs of nephrolithiasis treatment, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Kidney Stone (Nephrolithiasis)

People with risk factors of kidney stones or nephrolithiasis include:

  • Obesity
  • Suffering from gout
  • Post-intestinal surgery
  • Have certain kidney diseases

Usually, one of the factors that trigger kidney stones is a chemical left in the blood. These chemicals can come from certain foods and drinks.

Therefore, there are several preventive measures that can be undertaken to prevent chemical substances from becoming build-up of crystallized waste in the kidneys. These include:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, including juice, tea, or coffee.
  • Drink water combined with lemon slices.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks.
  • Avoid eating too much salty food
  • Reduce consumption of foods that contain too much protein.
  • Reduce consumption of organic foods with oxalate content, such as spinach and potatoes.

Kidney stones may be caused by organic food or drinks consumed during a diet. To avoid kidney stones, formulate and adhere to a balanced diet program.

Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Kidney Stone (Nephrolithiasis) 

Every patient diagnosed with kidney stone undergoes different treatment. Your doctor may advise you to limit or stop eating certain foods that may contribute to you developing kidney stones.

Maintain your urine’s hygiene by drinking a lot of fluids. You are still allowed to drink juice, tea, and coffee, but mineral water is certainly a far better and more recommended option.

When you feel tired or when you spend time under hot temperatures, you are recommended to increase your mineral water consumption. You can start a diet program based on your doctor’s recommendation.

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