Kidney stones are hard and small mineral & salt deposits that form in the kidneys. The stones form when urine becomes concentrated thus allowing the minerals and salts to stick together. Kidney stones vary in size and may stay in kidneys or go down the urinary tract.
The stones pass on their own causing little or no pain but they do not cause any permanent damage to the urinary tract. Surgery might be required if stones get deposited in the urinary tract. Dehydration is the main cause for kidney stone formation.
Symptoms for Kidney Stones
Symptoms may not appear until the stones move around in the kidneys or pass into the ureter. Below are the signs and symptoms you may have:
- Severe pain in the lower abdomen, back, groin or sides
- Pain while urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Constant urge to urinate
- Fever and chills in case of infection
- Urinating only small amounts
Immediately seek the help of a healthcare professional if you have any of the above symptoms.
There is no single and definite cause for the formation of kidney stones. They form when the levels of calcium, oxalate and uric acid increases in urine. Type of the kidney stone can determine the cause and ways to reduce the risk.
Calcium stones – Most of the kidney stones occur as calcium stones in the form of calcium oxalate and sometimes as calcium phosphate. Oxalate is a naturally occurring substance found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and chocolate. Our liver also produces oxalate. Concentration of calcium or oxalate levels in urine may increase due to diet, metabolic diseases or intestinal bypass surgery.
Uric acid stones – They are formed in people who have gout, take high protein diet, loose fluids heavily or don’t take enough fluids.
Struvite stones – They normally form in response to any urinary tract infection.
Cystine stones – Kidneys excreting too much of amino acid due to a hereditary disorder causes the formation of cystine stones.
The following diagnostic tests and procedures will be done if your doctor suspects you to have a kidney stone:
Blood Test – Blood test results help to monitor the condition of your kidneys. Also, it may reveal too much calcium or uric acid levels in your blood.
Urine Test – This test helps to find out whether you have too many stone forming minerals or too few stone preventing substances.
Imaging – These may include CT scan, X-rays and Ultrasound. Imaging tests helps to show the kidney stones in your urinary tract.
Analysis of passed stones – Strainer is used to catch the passed stones during urination. Analysis of these stones is done in the lab. Your doctor uses this information to determine the cause of stones and to decide on a treatment plan.