What Causes Kidney Stones-How To Deal With Them

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Published: 04th January 2011
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What are they
Kidney stones (renal lithiasis) are small hard deposits,made of mineral and acid salts, that form inside your kidneys. Kidney stones form when the urine becomes concentrated, and minerals crystallize and bind together. Usually the chemical balance in urine prevents the crystals from forming. If the crystals stay small , they will pass out of the body through the urine. This is not always the case for everyone,so some people form stones. A common variety of stone contains calcium plus other chemicals which is a part of our regular diet and are important parts of the body,like bones and muscles.

What causes kidney stones
Kidney stones can be caused by dehydration, urinary tract infections, kidney disorders and certain metabolic disorders such as over active thyroid glands. Developing stones may also be hereditary. Indinavir, a medicine used to treat HIV infection, can also be a factor in the development of kidney stones.Struvite stones can form as a result of a urinary tract infection. High calcium levels in the urine creates crystals of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate to form in kidneys or in the urinary tract. Stones may also form in individuals who experience chronic inflammation of the bowel or have had an intestinal bypass, or ostomy surgery. People with a history of forming calcium oxalate stones are usually advised to limit or eliminate high-oxalate foods which include rhubarb,spinach,beets,swiss chard,wheat germ,soybean crackers,peanuts,okra,chocolate,black Indian tea, and sweet potatoes.

Who gets them
Caucasians are more likely to develop kidney stones than African Americans. Kidney stones may increasingly develop in men in their early 40s and continue for the next 30 yrs. For women,developing kidney stones hits its peak in their 50s. Most children's common symptoms with kidney stones are back and abdominal pain. Parents often confuse their child's illness for appendicitis or gastritis. For children between the ages of 5 and 10 who have kidney stones, doctors recommend drinking six glasses of water a day, and children over 10,at least drink 10 glasses.

What are the symptoms
Kidney stones form in the kidney. When they stay put, they typically do not cause pain. And if you're lucky,when they travel out of the body through the tubes of the urinary tract , their movement may cause no symptoms. That is if the stone is small enough. But larger stones may cause sudden and intense pain in the back, side, abdomen, groin, or genitals. People have often described kidney stone pain as "the worst pain I've ever had." A few of the symptoms to watch for:

Feeling sick to the stomach and vomiting.
Blood in the urine,frequent and painful urination.
Dull pain originating in the lower back or pelvis.

If fever and chills accompany any of these symptoms, an infection may be present, and a doctor should be contacted immediately.

How are they diagnosed
Sometimes, stones that do not cause symptoms are found on x rays taken during a regular health exam. Often, kidney stones are found on an x ray or ultrasound taken of someone who may have related symptoms. The images give the doctor information as to the stone's size and location. Blood and urine tests help determine any substance that might be the cause of the stone to form.

How are they treated
Fortunately, surgery is not always necessary. Most kidney stones can pass through the urinary system with plenty of water to help move the stone along. A doctor may prescribe certain medications to help prevent or reduce the formation of stones. But in some cases surgery may be needed to remove the stone if:

After a reasonable amount of time has elapsed, it does not pass and continues to cause constant pain.
It is caught in a difficult place, or too large to pass.
It blocks the flow of urine.
It is the cause of an ongoing urinary tract infection.
It causes constant bleeding or damages kidney tissue
It has grown larger since the last x rays.

How to deal with them
Anyone who tends to form stones should try to drink enough liquids,preferably water, to produce at least 2 quarts of urine in every 24-hour period.

Recent studies have shown that foods high in calcium, including dairy products, may help prevent calcium stones.But on the other hand, patients may be told to avoid any supplements or over the counter medicines that may have a calcium base. Instead of a calcium supplement, why not take a magnesium supplement? Remember earlier, kidney stones are formed through calcium combined with other chemicals. Someone who has highly acidic urine may need to eat less meat, fish, and poultry since these foods increase acid levels in the urine.

A person who has had more than one kidney stone may be likely to form more, so, prevention is important. To determine their cause, the doctor will order the necessary laboratory tests. If a stone has been removed, or if the patient has passed a stone and saved it, a stone analysis by the laboratory may help the doctor in planning the proper treatment.

Your urinary health is important

Keep in mind:

A family history of stones or a personal history of more than one stone may be more likely to develop more stones.
A good first step for prevention of any type of stone is to drink plenty of liquids.(water,water,water)
Someone who is at risk may need certain blood and urine tests to determine a preventative plan to reduce that risk.
Some people will need medicines to prevent stones formation.

People with chronic urinary tract infections and stones will need a stone removed if the doctor determines it is the cause of the infection. Patients must receive follow-up to be sure the infection has cleared.

About the Author:
Carol Jackson-Freelance writer;Focusing on Baby Boomer health issues.

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