Kidney stones are small, hard deposits formed of substances in your urine. Kidney stones often develop in the urine due to a lack of liquid to help flush certain substances out of your body such as calcium, urate, oxalate, cystine, and phosphate.
Kidney stones range in size. Very small stones under ¼” should be able to painlessly pass through the urinary tract. Larger stones, however, may get stuck and can be quite painful. When a kidney stone gets stuck in the ureter (which carries urine from a kidney to your bladder), for example, it can cause additional symptoms such as painful urination, pain in the pelvic region (especially at the sides or back), discolored or foul-smelling urine, and too little or too frequent urination.
Recent research indicates that over the years, there’s been a steady increase in the number of Americans suffering from kidney stones. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 11% of men and 6% of women will develop kidney stones. And the risk of recurrence among those who develop kidney stones is significant.
Various factors can increase your risk of developing kidney stones, the most common being lifestyle and diet. A sedentary lifestyle with minimal-to-no exercise, inadequate water intake, and consumption of salty and oily foods can lead to a concentration of urine and the development of kidney stones.
Kidney Stone Symptoms and Treatment
Many people have kidney stones that go unnoticed and undetected – and pass harmlessly through the urinary tract.
The primary symptom of having kidney stones that are large or that get stuck is pain and discomfort during urination. The pain may range from slight to severe, typically coming in waves. It may be felt at the back, belly, and abdomen depending on where the stone is stuck.
If you suspect you might have kidney stones requiring treatment, you’ll want to find a qualified and experienced kidney doctor – a nephrologist – near you. Your doctor may recommend blood tests or diagnostic imaging such as an ultrasound or CT scan to confirm a diagnosis of kidney stones.
Treatment for kidney stones depends on the size of the stones and where the stones are located. Surgery is sometimes required for very large stones in the ureter. More often, a noninvasive outpatient method called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is used to break up kidney stones using high-energy shock waves. This treatment precisely targets the stones and causes no harm to surrounding body tissue.
Kidney Stone Prevention
The best way to combat kidney stones is to prevent them from forming in the first place. A good place to start is making changing your lifestyle and diet, if needed. For example:
- Drink ample water throughout the day. For those with a history of kidney stones, you should aim to drink enough water so that you urinate the equivalent of 2.5 liters (2/3 gallon) of urine a day.
- If you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, avoid eating oxalate-rich foods. These include nuts, beets, rhubarb, spinach, okra, and sweet potato.
- Go on a low salt and low animal protein diet. Reduce your salt intake; you might also want to try taking a salt substitute. Start eating non-animal protein like legumes to prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Now that you know what kidney stones are and what to do next, choosing the best doctor for you should be your next step.
Book an Appointment With Commonwealth Nephrology Associates Today!
Commonwealth Nephrology Associates is known for its high-quality medical care of patients with kidney conditions like electrolyte disorder, hypertension, and kidney stones. Our kidney experts and specialists provide lasting treatment for chronic kidney diseases based on individual patient needs.
If you think you might be suffering from kidney stones, contact Commonwealth Nephrology Associates at (617) 739-2100. Our friendly experts can help with any kidney concerns. You may also request an appointment now.