Solid masses made of crystals inside the kidneys are known as kidney stone or renal calculi. These stones are usually formed inside our kidneys but in some cases, they can also form along your urinary tract. Urinary tract consists of urethra, bladder, ureter and kidneys. These stones cause severe pain in patients.
Types of Kidney Stones
There are different types of kidney stones. Not all of these stones are made up of the same crystals.
Different types of kidney stones are;
Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stones. They are made up of calcium oxalate. If you eat less oxalate-rich foods you will have a lower risk of developing calcium stones. Food which are high in oxalates include,
- Potato chips
Even though these stones are usually made of calcium, necessary calcium in your food is still vital. A measured intake of calcium can keep you and your bones healthy.
The cystinuria is a genetic syndrome and causes cystine stones both men and women. These kidney stones are the rarest ones. If a person develops cystine stones, their kidneys start leaking a naturally found body acid, into the urine.
These types of kidney stones are more often developed in men than women. They can form if the person has gout or is receiving chemotherapy. These stones form when the urine is too acidic. This can be caused by a diet rich in purines. Purine is a substance present in meat, fish, shellfish and other sources of animal proteins.
Women with urinary tract infections can usually develop struvite stones. Urinary obstruction an be caused because of the large sizes of these stones. In most cases an underlying condition or a urinary infection can cause these stones. Timely treatment of underlying conditions can save the risk of struvite stones.
Symptoms of kidney stones can be;
- Blood in urine (brown, red, pink colored urine)
- Foul-smelling/discolored urine
- Urinating small amount of urine after short intervals
- Frequent need of urination
There are several ways through which kidney stones can be diagnosed including;
- Blood urea nitrogen or creatinine to check the functioning of kidneys
- Urinalysis to check if there are any stones, crystals, blood and white cells
- Examination of stones which are passed via waste to check the type of stones
- Blood tests to check the levels of calcium, phosphorus, electrolytes and uric acid
- Intravenous Pyelogram
- Retrograde Pyelogram
- Ultrasound of the kidneys
- Abdominal CT scan
- Abdominal X-rays
There are many ways through which kidney stones are treated based on their type. In most cases urine of a person is strained and crystals are collected from it to examine later. Doctors suggest drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day to limit the risk of kidney stone by creating a good urine flow. There are other treatments which include;
- Pain relief via narcotic medication
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy
- Ureteroscopy; extraction of stones from urinary tract with an instrument