Kidneys are the master chemist of the body. In Fact, they are the pair of bean-shaped organs, each almost the size of the fist.
They are situated against the back muscles in the upper abdominal cavity and are opposite to each other on either side of the spine. Nevertheless, the right kidney rests a little bit lower than the left to accommodate the liver.
In order to keep the body healthy, kidney performs some important jobs that include:
- Remove waste product from the blood
- Regulate body’s water and important minerals such as calcium and sodium
- Remove drugs, toxins, and waste from the body
- Helps in acid regulation
- Control the production of red blood cells
Urine drains from the kidney through a narrow tube called the ureter into the bladder. When the bladder fills there is the urge to urinate. In some people, chemicals crystalline in the urine and form a kidney stone. And the number of kidney stones cases has increased tremendously.
These stones are very tiny, even smaller than a grain of sand but gradually can grow to an inch or larger over a period of time.
The size of the stone is essential but more important is where it is located and whether it obstructs urine from draining or not.
Urolithiasis is the term refers to the presence of stones in urinary tract while nephrolithiasis refers to kidney stones and ureterolithiasis refers to stones lodged in the ureter.
(nephro = kidney + lithiasis = stone)
Causes of Kidney Stones
Cause – 1
Kidney stones really cause pain but when it falls into ureter which acts as a dam. As the kidney continue to function and make urine. This builds up pressure behind the stone thus kidney swells up.This pressure is what causes the pain of a kidney stone. But it also helps in pushing the stone along the course of the ureter. When the stones enter the bladder, the obstruction in the ureter is relieved and symptoms of kidney stones are resolved.
Cause – 2
Moreover, stones are generally formed when the usual balance of the water, salts, minerals and other substances found in urines alter. However, this balance change determines the type of kidney stones.
These chemicals build up may be of the following:
- Uric acid- a waste product produced when the body breaks down food to use energy
- Cysteine-an amino acids that help to build protein
Factors that change urine level balance include:
- Not drinking enough water
- Certain medical conditions which lead to unusual high level of these substances affect normal balance and causes the stone to form. Example include gout and inflammatory disease such as Crohn’s disease
Cause – 3
In scarce case, kidney stones can develop due to parathyroid gland, producing too much of a hormone. Thus leads to higher calcium levels which result in forming calcium kidney stones.
Types of Kidney Stones
The cause of four types of kidney stones are listed below:
1. Calcium Stone
The most frequent kidney stones formed is when there is the higher presence of calcium which is due to-
- A hyper parathyroid gland
- An inherited condition called hypercalciuria
- Kidney disease
These stones are either large, rough and smooth or spiky
2. Struvite Stones
These are developed when urine is alkaline due to-
- Infection- most commonly occur after urinary tract infection
Struvite stones are more common in women than men.
3. Uric Acid Stones
These are formed if there is a large amount of acid in urine which is due to-
- Consuming high protein diet that includes lots of meat
- The condition such as gout that prevents body breaking down certain chemicals.
4. Cystine Stones
This is the rarest type of kidney stones, which are caused due to-
- An inherited condition called- Cystinuria
Symptoms of Kidney Stone
Kidney stone usually remains symptomless until it moves into the ureter. In fact very small kidney stones are unlikely to cause any symptoms. This may even go undetected and pass out painlessly through urination.
Symptoms occur generally if kidney stones:
- Get stuck in kidney
- Causes infection
- When stone starts to travel down the ureter
When symptoms of kidney stones become apparent, they commonly include:
- Persistent ache in the lower back or may be felt in the groin
- Periods of intense pain which may last for minutes or hour
- Blood in urine( haematuria)- this may occur due to the stone scratching the kidney ureter.
- Burning sensation during urination
- Frequent or painful urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever, if there is an infection
Treatment of Kidney Stone
Medication helps kidney stones to pass easily. Medical drugs known as alpha blockers de-stress the walls of the ureter and expands the passage for the stone to pass easily.
2. Shockwave Therapy
The most common treatment is extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). This therapy use high energy shock waves to break stones into little pieces which carried away through the urinary tract easily.
When the stone has made its way out of the kidney and is close to the bladder, the most common treatment used is ureteroscopy. In this technique, a thin tube is moved through urinary tract to the spot of the stone. A surgeon splits the stone and get rid off fragments through the tube. No incision or cut is made in this process.
4. Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy
This is one of the most common types of treatment for removing kidney stones. A thin viewing tool, called a nephroscope, is used to locate and take out the kidney stone. The tool is inserted directly into the kidney through a small cut made in the back. For larger stones, a laser is used to break the kidney stones into smaller pieces. A surgeon performs percutaneous nephrolithotomy under general anesthesia.
How to Preventing Stones
Other than medical treatments and surgeries, kidney stones can be avoided by increasing the fluid intake in the body. Drinking water and adding watery or juicy foods into diet reduced the risk of kidney stones. This not only helps to treat kidney stones but prevent further developing of stones.
Coconut water is considered best for treating kidney stones. It cuts down stone in the kidney and later stone passes out through urination. Other foods include lemon juice, wheatgrass juice etc.
If you have a kidney stone then you are more likely to have again. Thus kidney stone can be prevented through diet.