Kidney stones can be a painful and uncomfortable experience, and in some cases, may require treatment. These stones are hard deposits that can form in the kidneys and can cause severe pain as they make their way through the urinary tract.
That’s why it’s so important to know if you have kidney stones early on. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of kidney stones, how to diagnose them, common causes, and preventative measures. We will also share some self-care strategies to manage mild kidney stone symptoms before medical attention is secured.
Understanding the Symptoms of Kidney Stones
One of the first steps in identifying kidney stones is understanding the symptoms. These include:
One of the most common symptoms of kidney stones is pain during urination. This occurs when the stone passes through the urinary tract, and can lead to a burning or stinging sensation.
Another common symptom of kidney stones is flank pain. This pain usually occurs on one side of the body in the back, just below the ribs, and can be intense and sharp.
Kidney stones can also cause blood in the urine, known as hematuria. Urine may appear red, pink or brownish in color, and in most cases, the blood is not visible to the naked eye.
Nausea and Vomiting
Severe pain caused by kidney stones can trigger nausea and vomiting, which is an indication that something is wrong with the body.
Fever and Chills
In rare cases, kidney stones can cause infections that result in fever and chills. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately.
Talking About the Common Types of Kidney Stones and Their Symptoms
Kidney stones come in different types, and they exhibit varying symptoms. Below is a breakdown of the four most common types of kidney stones:
Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stones, comprising about 80 percent of all cases. They are made up of calcium and oxalate, a naturally occurring substance in our foods. Calcium stones are usually small and will pass through the urinary tract with little or no pain. However, larger stones may cause intense and persistent pain.
Uric Acid Stones
Uric acid stones form when there is excessive levels of uric acid in the urine, leading to the formation of hard crystals in the kidneys. These stones can be painful and will appear to be brown or yellow in color.
Struvite stones are less common than calcium or uric acid stones, and they tend to affect women more than men. They are usually associated with urinary tract infections and can grow quite large, causing severe pain. Struvite stones may require surgical intervention in some cases.
Cystine stones are the rarest type of kidney stones, and they are caused by a genetic disorder that results in an abnormality in the body’s amino acids. These stones are difficult to break up and often require surgery to remove.
Detailing Physical Sensations to Watch Out for When You Suspect Kidney Stone
When you suspect kidney stone, there are specific physical sensations you need to watch out for. These include:
Pain in the back, sides, or lower abdomen
Kidney stones can cause pain in the back, sides, or lower abdomen, especially if the stone is large and obstructs the urinary tract. The pain may be severe and is usually described as being sharp, cramping, or dull.
Pain that comes in waves
Kidney stones can cause pain that comes in waves as the stones try to move down the urinary tract. This pain may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, making it difficult to keep food down.
Pain during urination
Kidney stones can cause pain during urination, which is usually a sign that the stone is already in the lower urinary tract.
Pain that changes in intensity
Kidney stone pain may change in intensity, depending on the movement of the stones in the urinary tract. At times, the pain may be dull or achy, while at other times, it may be excruciating.
Providing a Comprehensive Guide on How to Diagnose Kidney Stones
Once you suspect you have kidney stones, it’s essential to see your doctor for proper diagnosis. Below are several standard diagnostic procedures:
Medical History and Physical Examination
During a medical history and physical examination, the doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, medical history, and family history. They will also perform a physical examination to check for any signs of tenderness or swelling in the abdomen, flank, and back.
Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds, can help doctors identify the size, location, and type of kidney stones. These tests can also detect any blockage in the urinary tract and can provide the basis for proper treatment.
Urine tests can help doctors detect any infections or abnormalities in the urine that may indicate the presence of kidney stones. These tests are also essential in helping to reduce the risk of recurrent stone formation.
Highlighting Common Causes of Kidney Stones
The following are the most common causes of kidney stones:
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of kidney stones because it leads to a concentration of minerals in the urine that eventually turns into stones. People who live in hot climates, engage in intense physical activity, or have a history of kidney stones should drink plenty of fluids to reduce their risk of developing stones.
A diet that’s high in salt, animal protein, and sugar can increase the risk of developing kidney stones. On the other hand, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help prevent stone formation.
Obesity is associated with insulin resistance, which leads to an increase of calcium in the urine, a leading cause of kidney stones. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet can prevent the formation of these stones.
Certain Medical Conditions
Medical conditions such as gout, inflammatory bowel disease, and cystic fibrosis can increase the risk of developing kidney stones. These conditions require proper medical attention and treatment to manage the symptoms and prevent stone formation.
Providing Proactive Advice on the Steps to Take To Prevent Kidney Stone Formation
Prevention is always better than cure. The following are proactive steps to take to reduce the risk of developing kidney stones:
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, is one of the most effective ways to prevent the formation of kidney stones. It increases urine production, which helps flush out mineral deposits that can form into stones.
Eating a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also help prevent the formation of kidney stones. Foods that are high in calcium and oxalate, such as spinach and beet greens, should be consumed in moderation.
Limiting Sodium and Animal Protein Intake
High levels of salt and animal protein consumption can increase the risk of developing kidney stones. People who are susceptible to kidney stones should limit their intake of these foods.
Taking Medications as Prescribed
People who are prone to forming kidney stones may be prescribed medications to prevent their formation. It’s essential to take these medications as prescribed to reduce the risk of stone formation.
Sharing Some Self-Care Strategies to Manage Mild Kidney Stone Symptoms Before Medical Attention is Secured
If you are experiencing mild kidney stone symptoms, the following self-care strategies can help:
Drinking Plenty of Fluids
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, can help flush out the system of any mineral deposits that may lead to stone formation and alleviate mild symptoms.
Taking Pain Relievers
Pain relief medication such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can relieve pain and discomfort associated with kidney stones.
Using a Heating Pad
A heating pad can help relieve pain and discomfort caused by kidney stones by relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow.
Trying Over-The-Counter Medications
Over-the-counter medications such as alpha-blockers and calcium channel blockers can help relax the muscles in the urinary tract and make it easier to pass the stones.
Kidney stones are a common and painful condition, but it can be avoided with the right preventative measures. In this article, we’ve discussed the symptoms of kidney stones, how to diagnose them, their common causes, and various preventative measures. Additionally, we’ve highlighted self-care strategies that can help alleviate mild kidney stone symptoms. Remember to seek medical attention if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above and follow preventative actions to avoid kidney stones.