The pain caused by kidney stones is described as even more intense than childbirth. Kidney stones, which can occur for various reasons, can be treated with different methods depending on the size, type, and location of the stone. In this article, we will provide detailed information about kidney stones and their symptoms. If you experience symptoms of kidney stones, you should immediately consult a doctor.
What is Kidney Stone?
The kidneys, which are bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine, are responsible for removing waste products from the blood. The cleaned blood is then returned to the body, while the waste products are excreted from the body through the urinary tract. During the process of blood cleansing, hard deposits made up of salts and minerals form kidney stones. Kidney stones, also known as nephrolithiasis or renal lithiasis, can occur in one kidney or both kidneys.
What are the Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones typically cause symptoms when they enter the urinary tract, specifically the ureter. When kidney stones block the ureter during passage, it can cause pain. However, some small kidney stones can be passed without causing any symptoms through the urinary tract.
The primary symptom of kidney stones is severe pain, which can occur in the back, kidney area, lower abdomen, below the ribs, and groin. There may be a frequent urge to urinate, and urinating may be painful. The intensity of pain can vary and can come in waves.
Changes in the color and odor of urine may also occur. Vomiting and nausea may occur. There may be an increase in the frequency of urination or a feeling of needing to urinate frequently, even if the amount of urine passed is reduced.
Burning sensation during urination is common. If kidney stones cause an infection, urine can become darker and cloudy, and the patient may experience chills, shivering, and fever.
Kidney stones can block the urinary tract, causing problems with the removal of urine from the body. Individuals with kidney stones that have blocked the urinary tract may lose kidney function over time, and if both kidneys have stones, kidney failure can occur.
Why Do Kidney Stones Form?
More than one factor plays a role in the formation of kidney stones. The risk of kidney stone formation can increase when multiple factors are present together.
Inadequate fluid intake: Not having enough water in the body has a significant impact on the formation of kidney stones. Insufficient water intake during the day can increase the concentration of stone-forming substances in the urine. This can also make the urine more acidic, leading to the formation of kidney stones.
Gender: Kidney stones are more common in men than in women.
Genetics: If a person's family members have kidney stones, it increases their risk of developing them.
People who have had kidney stones before are more likely to have them again. This is especially true for those who had them before the age of 25.
Our diet is another factor in the formation of kidney stones. High levels of protein, sodium, and sugar in the diet can contribute to the development of this disease.
The rate of kidney stone formation is higher in people who have undergone digestive system surgery.
Having only one kidney increases the risk of this disease.
The likelihood of kidney stone formation also increases when there is an increase in the levels of cystine, oxalate, calcium, or uric acid in the urine.
Drugs used to reduce fluid retention can also increase the risk of kidney stones.
People who have had multiple urinary tract infections, as well as those with diseases such as Crohn's disease, hyperparathyroidism, medullary sponge kidney, renal tubular acidosis, and dent disease, are more likely to develop this disease.
Taking vitamin D and calcium supplements can also increase the risk of kidney stones.
How is Kidney Stone Diagnosis Made?
When diagnosing kidney stones, the role of urological doctors is crucial. The symptoms of kidney stones and the tests performed by urological doctors can help identify this disease. However, various tests are conducted to fully diagnose kidney stone disease.
Blood tests are conducted to check whether the kidneys are functioning properly. The levels of substances that may contribute to the formation of kidney stones, such as calcium and uric acid in the blood, are examined in particular.
This test can detect the presence of infection and blood in the urine. Urine tests can provide important details for identifying and clarifying diseases that may accompany kidney stones. In addition, urine collection tests that last for a day can also be performed. With a urine collection test, substances that may cause or prevent stone formation in the urine can be detected.
Diagnosis of kidney stones can be made through imaging techniques. Different methods can be used to diagnose kidney stones through imaging techniques.
The size and location of stones in the urinary tract or kidneys, including small stones, can be determined. The presence of a different ailment in the kidneys and surrounding organs can be identified with computerized tomography.
High-frequency sound waves are used in the ultrasound method. Detailed information about kidney stones can be obtained using this method. Reliable and fast results can be obtained with ultrasound. Stones that have entered the urinary tract and very small stones may be missed in some cases with this method. However, ultrasound should not be preferred in pregnant women to avoid exposure to radiation.
Kidney Stone Analysis
The inner structure of a kidney stone can be tested to determine the substances that make it up by taking a stone previously excreted through the urine to a urology doctor. Stones excreted from the body by urinating into a sock, gauze or sieve can be collected. Examining the stone in a laboratory can give the doctor an idea about applying treatment that will prevent the formation of stones again.
What Should Be Done to Prevent Kidney Stone Formation?
The causes of kidney stone formation can vary, and preventive measures can also differ depending on the type of kidney stone and one's dietary habits.
Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day is one of the most important preventive measures for kidney stone formation. It is recommended to consume more water than the amount of daily urine output. In some cases, a urologist may measure urine output to determine the proper amount of water intake. Those who live in dry and hot climates or frequently engage in exercise should consume more water. Clear urine indicates sufficient water intake.
Depending on the type of kidney stone, a nutritionist and a urologist can develop an appropriate diet plan. During the formation of a dietary plan, the rules of balanced nutrition should not be overlooked.
Reducing daily salt intake can lower the risk of kidney stone formation, as well as the risk of many other diseases, including heart and vascular diseases and hypertension. Various medications can be used depending on the type of kidney stone.
How Should People with Kidney Stones Eat?
Different dietary patterns can be established for patients with a history of kidney stones depending on the type of kidney stone. It is necessary to determine the correct diet and form in consultation with a dietician and a urologist.
Completely eliminating calcium is not a correct approach for patients with calcium oxalate kidney stones. Calcium is essential for healthy bone and tooth structure. Therefore, it should not be restricted unless advised by a doctor. Individuals with this type of kidney stone should avoid spinach, almonds, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, wheat bran, asparagus, beetroot, strawberries, chocolate, parsley, leeks, celery, and soy products.
Increased salt consumption can trigger the formation of kidney stones. Sodium, which is found in salt, can also be found in many packaged and canned foods. Limiting the consumption of animal protein is essential. Obtaining the protein requirement from animal protein may increase the risk of kidney stone formation in some cases.
It is important to limit the consumption of animal protein such as white and red meat, offal, seafood, and fish products, eggs, milk, and cheese.
When is Surgery Required for Kidney Stones?
Surgery may not be necessary for every type of kidney stone. Measures such as medication, increased water intake, and preventive treatments may be used to treat kidney stones that do not pass through the urinary tract.
Kidney stones that cause severe pain and infection, those that are too large to pass on their own, those that cause bleeding or may cause kidney damage, and those that cause complete obstruction must be surgically removed.