Urologic Diseases

Kidney Stones

​Overview:

  • Stones are usually found in the kidneys or in the ureters, and they are more common in men than women.
  • They can be extremely painful, and can lead to kidney infections or the kidney not working properly if left untreated.
  • Drinking fluids, especially water, is the best means of preventing kidney stones.

Introduction:
Waste products in the blood can occasionally form crystals that collect inside the kidneys. Over time, the crystals may build up to form a hard stone-like lump. Kidney stones come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Some resemble grains of sand, and in rare cases, can be the size of a golf ball. The stone may accumulate inside one or both kidneys, or in the ureter, which is the tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder. They most often affect people between the age of 30 and 60. Men are more likely to get kidney stones. 

Most kidney stones are made up of calcium, usually in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a natural substance found in food and is produced daily by the liver. Many types of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and chocolate contain large amounts of oxalate.

Causes:
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Taking some types of medications, like diuretics
  • Some diseases, such as: UTIs, gout, and some genetic disorders. 

Risk factors
  • Personal medical history, like having had kidney stones before
  • Family history. You're more likely to have kidney stones if someone in your family had them
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Following a diet rich in protein, sodium, and/or sugar
  • Being overweight or obese 
  • Having a gastric bypass surgery, or another intestinal surgery
  • Having kidney cysts 
  • Having high levels of cysteine, oxalate, uric acid, or calcium in your urine
  • Swelling or irritation of the intestines or joints
  • Some medicines, such as: diuretics, or calcium-based antacids

Symptoms:
Very small kidney stones are unlikely to cause many symptoms. They may even go undetected and pass out painlessly when you pee. Larger kidney stones can cause symptoms, including:
  • Pain in the side of your tummy (abdomen) and below your ribs;
  • Painful urination;
  • Blood in your urine;
  • Feeling sick or vomiting;
  • Cloudy, or foul-smelling urine;
  • Fever and chills in the case of an inflammation.

When to see a doctor?
  • Severe pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Blood in your urine
  • Difficulty urinating 

Complications:
  • Abscess
  • Severe kidney infection
  • Scarring and narrowing of the ureter
  • Perforation of the ureter
  • loss of kidney function from stone blockage 

Diagnosis:
Your doctor will diagnose kidney stones based on your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor may also perform some tests, such as:
  • Urine and blood tests.
  • Imaging exams (e.g. plain abdominal X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound, and intravenous urography through dye injection into the arm vein).  Ultrasound imaging is used for pregnant women, children, and young adults under the age of 16.

Treatment:
You pass kidney stones in your urine. The condition can be treated at home, but can be painful. Often, the pain does not last for more than two days. Your doctor may advise you to wait until the stone has passed into your urine. Meanwhile, he may recommend the following:
  • Drinking enough liquids throughout the day
  • Taking painkillers (e.g. ibuprofen)
  • Taking alpha-blockers. These are medications that help pass kidney stones.
Large kidney stones that do not travel normally through the urethra are usually removed by surgery: 
  • Ultrasound lithotripsy
  • Ureteroscope
  • Surgical removal the kidney stones through the skin.

Prevention:
  • Drink plenty of water every day, (8-12 glasses) to avoid dehydration. Drink enough fluids when you’re exercising to replace fluids lost through sweat.  
  • Avoid soft drinks.
  • Reduce salt intake.
  • Monitor the color of your urine. Dark urine means there is less fluids in your urine and that other substances are more concentrated.  In the morning, urine is usually characterized by a dark yellow color as a result of the accumulation of substances that are filtered during sleep.

 FAQS:
  • Can certain diets cause kidney stones?
    • Overeating proteins (e.g. Red meat) or food that is rich in oxalate. Also, not drinking enough fluids can put you at risk of developing kidney stones. Although the nutritional aspect matters when it comes to kidney stones, it cannot be the only cause of kidney stones if every other aspect is well-taken care of.
  • Do high urea and creatinine levels affect kidney function?
    • High levels indicate a disorder of kidney function. Tests must be conducted to find out the cause.

  • Myths & Truths
  • Myth: All cases of kidney stones require surgical intervention. 
    • Truth: No, some medications may be enough for people who have certain types of kidney stones.

Clinical Education General Department
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Last Update : 13 October 2021 08:15 AM
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