Kidneys are the organs that remove waste from the blood and makes urine. This process is important to keep us healthy and functioning. Sometimes, if there is an excess of certain types of waste and insufficient fluid in our body, it can cause waste matter to stick together and form stones. These are called kidney stones and are often hard deposits of minerals and salts formed inside the kidneys.
Kidney stones can affect any part of the urinary system from the kidneys to the bladder. The concentration of urine causes the stones to form by facilitating the minerals to crystallise and stick together.
Symptoms of kidney stones
Usually, kidney stones remain asymptomatic until it moves around inside the kidney or passes into the ureter. While moving into the ureter which is the tube that connects the kidney and bladder, the stone may cause the following symptoms:
- Severe pain in the back and sides, below the ribs
- Radiating pain to the lower abdomen and groin area
- Fluctuating pain in the lower abdomen and back
- Pain during urination
- Pink, red or brown urine
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent need to urinate
- Urinating more often than usual
- Fever and chills if an infection is present
- Urinating in small amounts
The pain experience can change in intensity as the location changes when it moves through the urinary tract.
Treatment of Kidney Stones
Small stones may naturally pass through the urinary system without causing much pain or other symptoms. Bigger stones need medical intervention and at times pain killers as it passes through the urinary tract. Drinking loads of water will help speed up the process. If the stone is quite big and difficult to pass through naturally, doctors can perform shock wave lithotripsy to blast the stones into small pieces. These can then pass through the urinary tract without much pain.
Other procedures that can be used by doctors are:
Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy: A cystoscope is used by the doctor to look inside the urethra and bladder to find the kidney stone. At times a ureteroscope can also be used to see detailed images of the stone and also to find it. Once the stone is found, the doctor can either remove it or break it into smaller pieces and allow it to pass through naturally.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: The doctor uses nephroscope to locate and remove the stone. The viewing tool is inserted directly into the kidney and used to either remove the stone or break it into smaller pieces. You will be required to stay in the hospital for some time after this procedure.
Prevention is always better than cure, so drink loads of water to help your kidneys perform the cleaning effectively and dissuade the formation of stones. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience: severe pain along with nausea and vomiting, pain accompanied by fever and chills, blood in urine, difficulty while passing urine or a constant urge to urinate.