The kidneys are not only critical to the renal system, but also the rest of the body. There are two kidneys in the human body. They act as the filtration system. Kidneys remove toxins from the body and also help to reduce fluid accumulation.
Here’s how they work. The toxins and excess fluids are sent to the bladder, where urine forms, whereby the bladder then stores urine until a person urinates. At this time, the fluids and toxins that were removed by the kidneys are expelled from the body.
Several elements and substances pass through the kidneys. Sometimes, these substances may build up in the kidneys. When this happens, kidney stones can develop. Kidney stones can be excruciating and can also cause complications with the renal system.
We consider what kidney stones are and what symptoms may signal these problems. We also take a look at common causes. This post also provides an overview of ways to treat existing kidney stones.
What Are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are essentially, just as the name implies, stones that form in the kidneys. These stones are sometimes referred to as deposits instead. They are made from salts and minerals, which pass through the kidneys each day.
Sometimes, however, the salts and minerals cause a build-up in the kidneys. When this happens, the patient is at risk of developing kidney stones.
Kidney stones do not only affect the kidneys. Other parts of the patient’s urinary tract can be affected by kidney stones, too, including the bladder. The stones can move from the kidneys to the bladder, and in such a case, additional symptoms may also develop.
Kidney stones often pass without medical treatment. There are, however, cases where these stones become a medical problem. When kidney stones become too large, then they can cause severe pain, and the patient may need to undergo surgery to assist with the removal.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Recognizing the causes of kidney stones is important. This can help a patient understand why they could have developed these stones.
Additionally, learning about the causes behind struvite stones and other kidney stones can also serve as a preventative method.
In some cases, men may also talk to their doctors about existing risk factors.
There isn’t a specific cause that can be linked to kidney stones. Instead, medical experts have found that several different factors cause these stones together. With this in mind, people should consider their own risk. Multiple risk factors have been identified.
There are also different types of kidney stones. They can be formed from oxalate, uric acid, or even calcium.
How Do Kidney Stones Form?
Kidney stones form when certain compounds start to accumulate in the kidneys. These elements are generally expelled toward the bladder and form part of the toxins, and other materials that the kidney filter and expel through the urinary tract.
For this reason, different types of kidney stones exist. Common types of kidney stones include:
- Calcium stones
- Uric acid stones
- Struvite stones
- Cystine stones
Cystine stones are not as common as the others. They form due to cystinuria, which is a type of amino acid. These stones are generally associated with a hereditary disorder.
Struvite stones are often caused by an infection. This may include a urinary tract infection. They quickly grow. Struvite stones can also become large.
Calcium stones are generally the type of stone that develop in the kidneys and are very common. They form due to the build-up of calcium oxalate. This often occurs in people with metabolic disorders. Those who opted for intestinal bypass surgery are also more likely to develop this type of kidney stones.
Who Is Most At Risk For Kidney Stones?
While no specific cause is thought to lead to kidney stones, there are many risk factors. Patients should know about these risk factors. It allows them to determine whether they might be at a higher risk than the average individual.
We take a closer look at risk factors linked to kidney stones below.
- Obesity: People who are obese have a significantly higher risk of kidney stones. This is especially true for obese individuals with metabolic syndrome.
- Dehydration: Failure to drink enough water causes a higher risk of compounds accumulating in the kidneys. This can cause stones to form too.
- Salt: A diet with a lot of salt also puts a person at risk. In such a case, there is a higher risk of calcium stones specifically.
- Digestive Disease: People with an existing digestive disease also see to be at a higher risk. Chronic diarrhea is an example. Inflammatory bowel disease also contributes to kidney stones.
- Family History: A person with a family history of kidney stones may also be at a higher risk. Furthermore, those who had kidney stones in the past are also at the risk of a recurrence.
Certain medical conditions can contribute to kidney stones. Some of these conditions include:
- Renal tubular acidosis
Recurrent urinary tract infections may also be a contributing risk factor. Furthermore, it is also important to note that some medications should be taken with caution too.
There are a few pharmaceutical drugs that could contribute to kidney stones. This will generally only occur with the chronic use of these medicines.
Symptoms Of Kidney Stones
Recognizing symptoms of kidney stones can ensure early treatment is provided. Kidney stone disease1 has a few potential complications. When recognized early on, there is a chance of easier treatment, and the treatment used will also be less invasive in such a case.
How Much Pain Do Kidney Stones Cause?
Pain is one of the most common symptoms associated with kidney stones. It is important to note that pain may differ from one patient to the next. Severe pain is possible. This is usually the case when the patient has a larger kidney stone.
Struvite stones, for example, tend to become relatively large. This is especially the case when compared to other stones, such as calcium stones. These stones may occur if the patient has a history of urinary tract infections.
In such a case, pain can be severe. The patient may also find that the pain is affecting their day-to-day functionality.
How Can You Tell If You Have Kidney Stones?
Recognition of the symptoms associated with kidney stones can help a person determine if they may be affected.
Several symptoms can occur. Many symptoms do overlap with other conditions. This is why an examination and further tests from a doctor is important.
Common signs that a person has kidney stones include2:
- There may be a consistent urge to urinate. When a person gets to the toilet, they may not be able to urinate. Sometimes, only a little urine volume will be expelled from their bladder.
- There may be flank pain in areas like the abdomen and side. Some patients also complain about back pain.
- Urination may bring along a burning sensation. Kidney stones can also cause painful urination.
- Some patients may note that there is blood in their urine (urine hematuria).
- A person’s urine may have a foul smell. Sometimes, the urine may also have a cloudy appearance.
- When urinating, the full bladder is not emptied at once.
More serious symptoms that can occur include:
- Some people become nauseous.
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills have also been noted in some cases.
It should be noted that these may be a sign of something more serious. It could be a symptom that suggests an infection has developed.
Treatments For Kidney Stones
Several treatments are available for kidney stones. It is, however, important to seek a consultation with a doctor or urologist first. The doctor will need to conduct a physical exam. Certain tests may also be ordered to diagnose kidney stones.
Diagnostic tools may include an abdominal x-ray or ct scan. All symptoms should be described to the doctor, as to help them make a more conclusive finding.
The doctor may ask the patient about specific symptoms. They may ask if there is blood in urine, for example. These questions help the doctor determine the possible severity of the kidney stones. It can also help the doctor determine if the patient might have large kidney stones3.
A few medications may help with kidney stones. These may help to flush out kidney stones. Some drugs focus on breaking down the kidney stones that formed.
Some drugs that may be provided to the patient include:
- Pain medication such as anti-inflammatory drugs may help manage pain. This is generally the case with small kidney stones. If the patient does not have severe pain, this solution may be used.
- Calcium channel blockers are often used. This can help to make the patient pass the kidney stones faster4.
There are more invasive treatments. Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is sometimes used. This procedure includes a surgical process. The surgeon will aim to remove the kidney stones from the patient’s kidneys. It is usually only advised in more serious cases.
The patient may also be advised to make certain lifestyle changes. This may include increasing the intake of water daily. Salt intake should be reduced at the same time. Patients who are obese will be advised to reduce their weight.
Natural Ways To Treat Kidney Stones
The following are the recommended five natural remedies for a kidney stone that could hasten the healing process and lessen the pain that the body goes through.
Drink a whole lot of water. Keeping the body properly hydrated is one of the hallmarks of a healthy body. When the body system has adequate fluid running in it, it flushes out the minerals and other toxic substances that are responsible for the stone formation.
There are two rules to keep to ensure that you are adequately hydrated.
- The darker your urine is, the more water you need.
- 8 -12 glasses of water a day keeps the doctor away.
Taking pomegranate juice helps in improving kidney function. What makes it an A-list natural remedy for kidney stones is its ability to flush out stones and other toxins from the body system.
Pomegranate juice contains a very high level of antioxidants and reportedly has it higher than most of the known fruit juices, green tea, and red wine.
The old horsetail plant is well known for its antioxidant and diuretic properties, among others, which qualifies it as one of the best natural remedies for kidney stones.
Research has shown that the volume of silica in horsetail aids the body in absorbing calcium and thus helps to stop kidney stones formation and dissolving existent stones in the body.
Below are the two different ways in which you can use horsetail as a cure for kidney stones.
- Take 2 grams of horsetail extract capsule with water daily.
- Drink 3 or 4 cups of horsetail tea every day.
The juice from the basil plant contains acetic acid and is a detoxifier that can help in the expulsion of kidney stones. One teaspoon of basil juice with honey every day over the period of 6 months has been proven to cure kidney stones.
How To Prevent Kidney Stones
When it comes to kidney stones, prevention is the key factor here. There are several ways to effectively prevent the accumulation of struvite stones and calcium stones in the kidneys. Other stones can also be effectively prevented through certain methods.
Many of the prevention methods may also help improve kidney disease. This way, there is no need to worry about seeking treatment or experiencing severe pain. Procedures like percutaneous nephrolithotomy can also be avoided.
When looking at preventative methods, a person should consider their own health. Sometimes, conditions like chronic kidney disease need special care.
We share a few of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of kidney stones below:
- Adequate fluid intake is critical. Hydration helps the body function correctly. It can also be an effective way of preventing kidney stones. In fact, kidney stones often develop due to a lack of hydration. The poor hydration causes crystals and stones to form in the kidneys. Water and other fluids can also help smaller crystals be flushed out before they become more prominent.
- There are some studies that suggest orange juice5 may be effective too. It was found that orange juice is also better compared to other types of citrus juices. One study particularly compared orange juice to lemonade.
- Recognition of the risk factors associated with kidney stones is important. Appropriate action to be taken to reduce risk factors in the patient’s life. Obese individuals should implement steps that will help them reach a healthier weight, for example.
- Reducing sodium intake is also useful as a preventative strategy. Diets high in sodium can contribute to kidney stones.
- A reduction in animal protein intake might also be useful in reducing the risk of these stones. Several scientific papers describe a possible connection between kidney stones and a high protein diet obtained from animal sources.
- A few herbal remedies exist too. Patients should consider looking at the available herbal remedies. These may be helpful for kidney disease and prevent kidney stones.
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Kidney stones can be very problematic. They can cause severe pain in some patients. There are multiple causes linked to kidney stones. Patients should be aware of symptoms linked to these stones. Early treatment helps to reduce the risk of complications. It is also easier to treat kidney stones when they are still small.