Kidneys are the human body’s filtering system. Normally, they perform their task of removing toxic byproducts from the body without any problem. However, occasionally, hardened deposits, called “stones,” can form in the system, causing blockages and severe pain. They may be composed of a variety of different compounds. These stones can lodge in any part of the system, from the kidneys themselves to the urinary bladder. Having a kidney stone attack can be a frightening experience, because the individual can go from feeling fine to extreme discomfort in a relatively short period of time. Some factors can make you more prone to developing kidney stones. A number of complications can arise as a result of the kidney stone being lodged in the system. Medical intervention is not always needed for kidney stones though.
Individuals who are obese are at greater risk for developing kidney stones. Those with certain medical conditions, such as thyroid problems or digestive diseases, are at increased risk. Certain medications and supplements can make you more susceptible to developing kidney stones. If you eat a diet high in sugar, sodium and protein, you are at greater risk. If you live in a hot climate and sweat a great deal, you may be frequently dehydrated, which can increase your risk for kidney stones. If you’ve developed a kidney stone once, it is highly likely you will develop one again, which is why it’s important to determine what the stone is made of, so that remedial measures can be taken to prevent it. Assessing these factors can help to avoid future kidney stone attacks.
A kidney stone attack has a number of recognizable symptoms that helps physicians diagnose the disorder. The location of symptoms can change as the stone works its way through the kidney system. In many cases, the pain of a kidney stone can debilitate a person, preventing them from engaging in their usual activities. The persistence of discomfort usually causes the individual to seek out medical care. Common symptoms include:
The treatments for kidney stones will depend on the size of the stone and the severity of symptoms. For a small stone with minor symptoms, a physician may recommend drinking large amounts of water to help the stone pass, NSAIDS pain relievers to manage discomfort and medications that relax tissues so the stone can be expelled from the body. Larger stones may require sound waves to break them up, so they can be released. Surgery may be necessary for some larger stones. The surgeon may use a procedure to remove the stone through a small incision in the back. Another type of procedure uses an endoscope through the urethra to remove the stone. These procedures are done under general anesthesia and require a short hospital stay.