Kidney / Bladder Stones
Stone disease is one of the most painful and prevalent urological disorders. More than a million kidney stone cases are diagnosed each year, with an estimated one out of ten people expected to suffer from a kidney stone at some time in their life.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are solid pieces of material that form when substances normally found in the urine, such as mineral and acid salts, become concentrated and crystallize.
A stone can range in size from a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. It may remain in the kidneys or travel down the urinary tract into the ureter. A small stone may pass on its own, causing little or no pain. However, a larger stone may get stuck along the tract and block the flow of urine, resulting in intense pain or bleeding.
Who Gets Kidney Stones?
Anyone can develop a kidney stone, but some people are more likely to get one.
Those with increased risk include:
- Overweight and obese individuals
- Individuals with a family or personal history of kidney stones
- Individuals who are dehydrated
- Individuals who maintain diets high in protein, sodium, or sugar.
- Individuals with certain bowel conditions, such as chronic diarrhea and Crohn’s disease, or those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery
- Individuals with other medical conditions including renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria, hyperparathyroidism, certain medications, and some urinary tract infections
Types of Kidney Stones
Knowing the type of kidney stone you have helps determine its cause, and may give clues on how to reduce your risk of getting more kidney stones. If possible, try to save your kidney stone if you pass one so that you can bring it to your doctor for analysis.
Types of kidney stones include:
- Calcium stones. Most kidney stones are calcium stones, usually in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a substance made daily by your liver or absorbed from your diet. Certain fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate, have high oxalate content.
- Dietary factors, high doses of vitamin D, intestinal bypass surgery, and several metabolic disorders can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate in urine.
- Calcium stones may also occur in the form of calcium phosphate. This type of stone is more common in metabolic conditions, such as renal tubular acidosis. It may also be associated with certain medications used to treat migraines or seizures, such as topiramate (Topamax, Trokendi XR, Qudexy XR).
- Struvite stones. Struvite stones form in response to a urinary tract infection. These stones can grow quickly and become quite large, sometimes with few symptoms or little warning.
- Uric acid stones. Uric acid stones can form in people who lose too much fluid because of chronic diarrhea or malabsorption, those who eat a high-protein diet, and those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Certain genetic factors also may increase your risk of uric acid stones.
- Cystine stones. These stones form in people with a hereditary disorder called cystinuria which causes the kidneys to excrete too much of a specific amino acid.
Kidney stones do not always cause pain. If they do, the first sign can often be the sudden development of intense, unrelenting, and contraction-like pain in the side and back, below the ribs that spread to the lower abdomen and groin.
Other symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood in the urine
- Painful or frequent urination
- Foul-smelling or cloudy urine
- Fever (if an infection is present)
Tests and procedures to diagnose kidney stones include:
- Detailed family history, lifestyle, and dietary habits
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Imaging tests
- Analysis of passed stones
Passing kidney stones can be quite painful, but the stones usually cause no permanent damage if they’re recognized in a timely fashion. Depending on your situation, you may need nothing more than to take pain medication and drink lots of water to pass a kidney stone. In other instances — for example, if stones become lodged in the urinary tract, are associated with a urinary infection, or cause complications — surgery may be needed. Here at Z Urology we have the latest and most minimally invasive technology that can help remove kidney stones.
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is good for your health overall and especially good for all urological disorders. When you don’t drink enough water that means your urine output will be low putting you at risk for stones. Low output means your urine is more concentrated and less likely to dissolve urine salts that cause the stones in the first place.
- Eat calcium-rich foods. The most common type of kidney stone is calcium oxalate stone. Upon hearing this people assume they should avoid calcium but on the contrary low calcium diets increase your kidney risk.
- Eat less sodium. Eating less salt will allow your urine to be less saturated with too much calcium.
- Eat less oxalate-rich foods.
- Eat less animal protein. Many types of meat are highly acidic and increase your risk of not only inflammation but kidney stones. High amounts of acid in your urine can lead to both uric acid and calcium oxalate kidney stones.
- Avoid Vitamin C supplements.
- Make sure to evaluate the medications you are currently on with your urologist. Many medications can increase your likelihood of getting kidney stones. You will have to weigh the cost-benefit when considering whether to take a medication or not.
- Make sure to speak to your doctor about what medications you can take to help prevent kidney stones in the future if you’ve already had them.
If you need more information or have questions, we are here to help. Please contact Z Urology at (954) 714-8200.