Kidney Stones

Overview

The kidneys are an integral part of the body’s urinary tract system. It is the job of the kidneys to remove toxins and excess waste from the body. Sometimes, materials such as calcium, oxalate, phosphorus and uric acid can accumulate in high concentrations in the kidneys. This high concentration can lead to the formation of solid masses called kidney stones.

Kidney stones can be very small or as large as marbles. Anyone can get a kidney stone, however there are some factors that make formation of stones more likely. Most kidney stones are small and easily pass out of the body in the urine with no treatment. Sometimes, however, the stones grow large and can block the flow of urine or cause pain or infection.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Large kidney stones are often uncomfortable. Pain in the lower back or sides, or pain in the abdominal region may indicate kidney stones. This pain is generally felt below the ribs and spreads as low as the groin. The pain may be constant or may vary and may shift over time. For instance, pain may begin in the lower back but shift to the groin. Painful urination, frequent urination or a frequent urge to urinate – with an inability to pass urine – are further symptoms. Blood in the urine is common when the stone creates a partial blockage or infection exists and may present as brown, pink, or red urine. Often, urine will also be cloudy and foul smelling. Fever, chills, nausea and vomiting may accompany kidney stones, particularly if there is an infection. Patients exhibiting these symptoms should be seen by a physician.

Causes

The accumulation of materials such as calcium, phosphate, and oxalate cause the formation of kidney stones. Certain health conditions, medications and lifestyle choices can place individuals at greater risk for developing kidney stones. Kidney stones often run in families, so a family history of kidney stones can indicate a higher preponderance towards developing stones. Persons with hypercalciuria – large amounts of calcium in the body – are also at greater risk. Hyperparathyroidism can cause extra calcium in the blood, and like hypercalciuria can lead to kidney stone development. Gout, chronic inflammation of bowel, hyperoxaluria and nyperuricosuria are all medical conditions that are known to indicate an increase in the occurrence of kidney stones. Diuretics, which remove fluids from the body, antacids with calcium, Crixivan, a protease inhibitor, and the anti-seizure medication Topamax have an affect on the formation of kidney stones. Persons with diets high in animal protein, oxalate, calcium and sodium more frequently experience kidney stones. Those who drink less than two liters of liquid per day are more likely to suffer this condition as well. Continue reading for Prevention information . . .

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