kidney stones

Kidney Stones: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

A kidney stone is a mineral that’s hard and crystalline in appearance. It starts with a tiny speck of calcium from urine forming in the ureter or kidney, and then other minerals attach themselves to it, increasing its size to a stone. Then, these stones start moving and block the urine flow.

Many people describe the pain caused by a kidney stone as being more excruciating than childbirth, or any other form of worst pain they had experienced beforehand.

Often times, there are no symptoms of kidney stones at first. However, one of the earliest signs of an impending stone being formed is painful and frequent urination. The pain can be severe, especially if the stone is moving into the urethra from the bladder.

If you experience pain, you must see your doctor urgently, as you may also have a urinary tract infection. It is important to know that an intense, frequent need to go to the toilet isn’t necessarily related to how much you have been drinking prior to this problem occurring.

There are various other symptoms that will usually stand out when it comes to kidney stones:

  • A sharp pain in your lower abdomen, side or back.
  • Pain traveling towards your groin area.
  • Pain varying in intensity and coming and going in waves.
  • Pain when you urinate.
  • Blood within your urine.
  • Your urine being red, brown or pink in color.
  • Vomiting and nausea.
  • Difficulty sitting still (as pain gets worse when compressing the affected areas).
  • A strong desire to pace up and down, hoping to ease the pain and discomfort.
  • Trouble urinating.
  • Dehydration.

Kidney stones can cause dehydration, so it is critical that you maintain the intake of sufficient fluids, especially during such times.

A kidney infection can cause further symptoms, such as:

  • Urinating more often than normal.
  • Bad-smelling and/or cloudy urine.
  • Extreme pain when you urinate.
  • Chills and fever.

The pain level you experience is related to the size of the kidney stone. The bigger the stone, the more intense the pain becomes.

There are several methods that can successfully diagnose kidney stones. The doctor can order a CT scan, an ultrasound, a specific X-ray (kidney-ureter-bladder – KUB) or an intravenous pyelogram (IVP).

There are many possible causes of kidney stones, and they include:

  • A family history.
  • Poor diet.
  • A diagnosis of gout.
  • A reaction to certain medications, or to a combination of medications taken concurrently.
  • A personal history of one or more stones.

Also, it is important to be aware of these facts:

  • Kidney stones are more common in men than women.
  • They are most common in people aged 20…49 years.
  • Overweight people are more at risk.

Most stones will pass through to the bladder and out through the urine on their own. However, sometimes you may need medication to ease pain and help push the stone through your body faster. If these treatments don’t work, surgical procedures may be required.

Kidney stones can be difficult to deal with because of the unpleasant symptoms they cause. It is essential to see your doctor as soon as you become aware of such symptoms, because treatment can begin quickly, provided that the tests warrant it.


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