It’s not strange that a lot of people are aware of what kidney stones are – it is because the cases of this condition are comparatively frequent. A kidney stone, which may be called nephrolith, or renal calculus, is a solid accumulation of minerals from urine formed in the tubal system of the kidney. It’s common knowledge that these stones may be of different size and shape and cause discomfort, especially when moving along urinary tract.

Although it seems there is nothing special about this condition, many people have lots of questions concerning kidney stones. They are not just patients experiencing the disease, but also their relatives who would like to prevent inheriting kidney stone disease, and those who are just afraid to have it.

Kidney Stones

It is necessary for those interested to have their questions answered, because it may save their life from suffering. There is always danger of facing fraudsters in the medical field who make treatment quite profitable and offer ineffective remedies at large sums of money. If a patient with kidney stone disease is cheated like that, it’s not only waste of money, but a great risk to make the disease worsen. Besides, some people suffering from kidney stones choose alternative medicine. Of course, it’s possible that the effect is amazing, but it may be vice versa as well. Thus, people must be aware of basic information concerning kidney stones for their good.

Question #1. What Symptoms Are There?

Kidney stones don’t show their presence until they begin to move within your kidney or in ureter. However, when they move, the symptoms are evident:

  • Sharp pain coming in waves, the intensity of which changes within the interval of 20-60 minutes. It’s felt in the back or side, moving according to the position of the stone which changes permanently;
  • Frequent urination in small amounts, persistent need to urinate;
  • Painful urination. The color of urine may be pink, red or brown because of blood. It may be cloudy or bad-smelling;
  • Nausea or vomiting, especially when inflammation appears;
  • Fever or chills.

It’s possible to confuse kidney stones with such diseases as acute appendicitis, acute cholecystitis, pancreatitis, bowel obstruction, constricted hernia, ectopic pregnancy and perforated ulcer. So, it’s important to visit your doctor to identify the real reasons of your state.

Question #2. What Are the Types of Kidney Stones?

Types of Kidney Stones

The most important thing to do as soon as you find out there are stones in your kidneys is to define what type of minerals became the cause of their formation. It is necessary to know the chemical composition of the stones to get further treatment prescribed. Usually, it’s enough to make urinary and blood tests.

There are four main types of kidney stones:

  1. Calcium stones. They are the most widespread and the worst due to the fact they are hard to dissolve; and in some cases they are insoluble. This type of stones has two subtypes: calcium oxalate stones of black or dark brown color (diagnosis for most patients with kidney stones) and calcium phosphate stones of dirty white color.
  2. Uric acid stones. They are 15% of all the cases of kidney stone diseases. The stones consist of uric acids and, luckily, they are easy to treat. The distinguishing color for uric acid stones is yellow or reddish brown.
  3. Struvite stones. These kidney stones appear as a result of infections. They are formed due to alkaline reaction residua which may be carbonic, ammonium, magnesium or phosphate. These stones are dirty white and may grow to large sizes, and, as a rule, they need to be removed.
  4. Cystine stones. This type of stones is quite rare and the reason is genetic disorder when urine contains too much cystine which results in cystinuria. The stones are pink or yellow in color and hard to dissolve.

It’s crucial to find out what type of kidney stones you have got, as it will influence the diet and medicines prescribed to you. Treatment for calcium oxalates is totally different from the one for uric acid stones, and so on.

Question #3. Who Is in the Risk Group?

This question is closely connected with the reasons of kidney stone disease occurrence. Actually, they may be absolutely different for different types of stones and people.

  • If you have relatives who suffer from kidney stones, then you are in the group of risk. Such conditions as hypercalciuria (high level of calcium in blood), renal tubular acidosis, metabolic imbalance of cystine, oxalates and urates – they all may be inherited and lead to the formation of kidney stones of different types.
  • Usually, people in the areas with hot climate are more prone to developing kidney stones due to the risk of dehydration caused by extensive sweating, which leads to high concentration of urine. Also, there is special composition of water in some areas, which makes people more vulnerable.
  • This factor is responsible for many conditions, and kidney stones ara not an exception. A wrong diet may lead to kidney stones formation while a balanced diet can help to get rid of them.
  • When a metabolic disorder takes place, high levels of various salts come into the blood and, consequently, into the urine. The mineral balance in the urine is upset, and salts turn into stones in the genitourinary system.
  • When blood vascular glands fail, a great amount of some hormone is produce into the blood, which leads to abnormal processes in body. For example, when there is too much parathyroid hormone, calcium comes from bones into the blood and then into the urine.
  • Moreover, some medicines, the action of which is based on either increasing or decreasing the amount of minerals in the blood, may lead to kidney stones appearance. That’s why you must avoid self-treatment and always be curious about side effects of the medicines prescribed.

Question #4. How to Prevent Kidney Stones?

Prevent Kidney Stones

When speaking about kidney stones, preventive measures are evident from the causes of the disease. First of all, it’s important to control your weight, as overweight people have kidney stones more often than people with normal weight. Drinking more water and orange juice, while avoiding apple and grapefruit juice, is another piece of advice. Limiting the consumption of sodium and animal proteins will also contribute to kidney stones prevention, as well as eating fruit and vegetables rich in calcium.

Question #5. How to Get Rid of Kidney Stones?

There are different ways of treating kidney stone disease, depending on the type of kidney stones, their size and presence of infection or inflammation. Contemporary methods of treatment include:

  • Pharmaceutical treatment aimed at kidney stones dissolution;
  • Open surgery;
  • Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy;
  • Endoscopic contact lithotripsy;
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy;
  • Endoscopic surgery treatment.

All the cases of kidney stones are individual, and it’s your urologist who decides what method will be appropriate. Small stones usually pass on their own, but painkillers and a corresponding diet must be prescribed. If stones are accompanied by infection, antibiotics are necessary for the treatment. Some stones may be dissolved with certain medicines. In case stones are large and impossible to dissolve, it’s preferable to fall back on extracorporeal shockwave or other kinds of lithotripsy. Open surgery is believed to be an outdate method and is used only in rare cases when another type of treatment is helpless.

FAQ by Canadian Pharmacy Service -