Most people know that kidney stones form in the kidneys, but many don’t realize that they can also form in the ureter (the tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder) or in the bladder. In fact, about half of all kidney stones pass through and out of the urinary tract without obstruction, so there’s no need to see a doctor unless your stone impacts your ureter or you have pain from it. Let’s take a look at 7 facts about kidney stones you might not know and how they can help you prevent this common medical condition.
1.Know the Symptoms
The most common symptom of kidney stones is severe pain in your side, below your ribs and towards your back. Some also describe it as similar to a bad case of gas or, even more dramatically, the worst pain of my life. This pain can come on quickly or it may develop slowly over several hours before you feel like someone is stabbing you with a knife. The sharpness of kidney stone pain is often attributed to its location, but it’s really caused by something called referred pain.
2. The Causes of Kidney Stones
There are many different causes of kidney stones. One of these is dehydration; while it’s not a common cause, it can occur if you don’t drink enough water. Obesity can also be a risk factor for developing kidney stones. While there isn’t much evidence to support diet changes as an effective treatment, there is some evidence that eliminating various food additives like sodium nitrate and benzoates can help reduce or prevent future kidney stone occurrences.
- Kidney stones are a common problem that can affect anyone of any age.
- There is no single cause of kidney stones, but they can be caused by a variety of factors, including the foods you eat and the way you drink water.
- If you have ever had kidney stones, there is a good chance you will again. However, it is possible to reduce your chances of having them by following some simple advice.
3. They Can Occur in Anyone
Even healthy, fit people can get kidney stones. The fact is that anyone who has a functioning ureter (the tube between your kidneys and bladder) can develop kidney stones, but there are certain medical conditions that make them more likely.
There’s a common misconception that being fit means you’re immune to kidney stones. In actuality, being fit and having a healthy diet can actually increase your risk of developing kidney stones. According to the National Kidney Foundation, people who are physically active and have a healthy diet may be at an increased risk for developing kidney stones because they’re more likely to have balanced blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
4. Treatments Are Dependent on Severity
It is usually possible to treat a kidney stone without surgery. First, patients should attempt to pass it naturally or with medication; a doctor will tell them which route is best based on its size and location. If natural remedies don’t work, doctors may offer shockwave therapy, which uses sound waves to break up stones in affected parts of the body. Most people can pass stones within about two weeks through these methods.
The following are treatments that may help to prevent or dissolve kidney stones.
- Dietary Changes: One of the most common ways to prevent kidney stones is by making dietary changes. This means eating a balanced and low-sodium diet, eating more fruits and vegetables, and drinking plenty of fluids.
- Hydration: Another important way to prevent kidney stones is by staying hydrated.
5. Prevention Tips to Avoid Kidney Stone Formation
Preventing kidney stones isn’t easy, but there are a few things you can do to lower your risk. Your first step should be to reduce your intake of liquids and certain foods that increase urine acidity and promote stone formation. You should also take steps to reduce infection and inflammation, which both contribute to stone formation. If you have one kidney, or even two kidneys with one functioning at less than 25 per cent capacity, your risk for developing kidney stones is increased exponentially.
6. First-Line Treatment Options
For most people with kidney stones, drinking water is enough to relieve symptoms. If your water consumption hasn’t been enough to dissolve your stone, there are several safe and effective medications that can help to do so. These include allopurinol (Zyloprim), potassium citrate (Urocit-K), sodium bicarbonate (Bicitra) and thiazide diuretics (Mazindol). In some cases, however, surgery may be required.
7. Additional Treatment Options
If a kidney stone passes naturally, symptoms may be nonexistent. However, if an individual does experience symptoms, doctors will first try to pass it with medication. If that doesn’t work, a doctor may have to resort to more extreme measures—like shock waves or surgery—to move it out of your body. Although these steps can be effective in some cases, they also come with side effects and risks that should be discussed with your doctor before you opt for them as treatment options.
In conclusion, kidney stones are a common medical problem that can cause a great deal of pain. If you experience any of the symptoms listed earlier, it is important to see a doctor right away. Treatment for kidney stones typically involves taking pain medication and drinking lots of fluids. In some cases, surgery may be required.