Kidney Stones – The Mother Of All Pain!

by Richard H Ealom

INTRODUCTION: Kidney stones, one of the most painful of the urological disorders, have bothered humans for centuries. They are produced when there is a high level of calcium oxalate or uric acid in the urine; a lack of citrate in the urine; or insufficient water in the kidneys to dissolve waste material.

They are most prevalent in persons between the ages of 30 and 45, and the incidence declines after age 50. They may be as tiny as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl and frequently do not cause any symptoms.

SYMPTOMS: Stones that produce lasting symptoms or other complications may be treated using a variety of techniques, most of which do not need major surgery. Ocassionly “silent” stones (those that do not cause symptoms) are found on x-rays taken during a general health examination. The MD determines if the patient has a history of kidney stones, documents past medical conditions, and evaluates present symptoms. When the stone enters the bladder, the blockage in the ureter is relieved and the symptoms are resolved.

Kidney stones typically leave the body by passage in the urine stream, and many are formed and passed without causing any symptoms. People with severe symptoms might need to be hospitalized. Call your health care provider if you have symptoms or if symptoms return, urination becomes painful, urine output decreases, or new symptoms develop.

TREATMENT: Treatment varies, depending on the type of stone and the cause and usually includes pain medication and increased fluids (to drink) until the stone is passed. If a stone has been removed, or if the patient has passed a stone and saved it, an analysis by the laboratory may help the doctor in planning treatment. A second 24-hour urine collection may be needed to determine whether the prescribed treatment is working.

Today, treatment for kidney stones is greatly improved, and many options do not need major surgery and can be performed in an outpatient setting. To lower the risk of complications, doctors usually advise patients to avoid taking aspirin and other medicines that affect blood clotting for several weeks before treatment. Ocassionly the stone is not completely shattered with one treatment, and additional ones may be required. As with any interventional, surgical procedure, potential risks and complications should be discussed with your MD before making a final decision.

If no specific treatment exists, you may be able to stave off additional stones simply by drinking more water and making a few dietary changes. After treatment, the pain may return if the stone moves and causes blockage in another location. The goal of treatment is to relieve and prevent further symptoms.

CONCLUSION: Kidney stones are small, hard deposits of mineral and acid salts on the inner surfaces of your kidneys and develop when a change occurs in the normal balance of water, salts, minerals, and other things found in urine. They are very painful but often can be removed from the body without producing permanent damage. They often cause no pain while in the kidneys, but can produce sudden, severe pain while traveling to the bladder.

They are more common in developed countries and do have regional variation in occurrence. They occur all year; however, more people seem to develop or become aware of stones during the summer months. They are an ancient problem dating back to the age of the Egyptian pyramids, yet are still a common malady today. Stones are normally passed out of the body within 48 hours, but attacks can sometimes last for over thirty days. Most however, exit the body without help from a doctor.

If someone in your family has them, you’re more likely to develop them too and if you’ve already had one or more, you’re at increased risk of developing another. Most people who develop stones are between 20 and 70 years of age. Having high blood pressure doubles your risk.

According to The National Institute of Health, 1 person in 10 develops kidney stones during their lifetime and renal stone disease accounts for 10 out of every 1000 hospital admissions. Conventional wisdom and common sense have long held that consumption of too much calcium could promote the development of kidney stones. However, current evidence suggests that the consumption of low-calcium diets is ACTUALLY associated with a higher overall risk for the development of kidney stones. Call your MD right away if you have symptoms that suggest you have them.

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