Each year, thousands of people visit an emergency room or urology office because of kidney stones. Kidney stones are a very common and painful urologic condition that may or may not require medical attention.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are an accumulation of minerals that form somewhere within the urinary system. Depending on their size and location, stones can be excruciating when they begin to move or become lodged. Typically, pain will begin in the upper back, radiate to the front abdomen, and proceed down to the groin.
There are four common types of kidney stones:
- Calcium: Calcium oxalate stones are the most common. Calcium phosphate stones can also form.
- Uric Acid: This type of stone can form when urine is too acidic.
- Struvite: These stones are associated with infections.
- Cystine: These stones are less common and are associated with Cystinuria, a genetic condition.
Kidney stone risk factors
This extremely painful condition afflicts people of all ages and races. There are several factors that can promote kidney stone formation:
- Family history of kidney stones.
- Certain medications.
- Decrease in fluid intake / dehydration.
- Dietary factors.
- A high sodium diet that creates excess calcium.
- A diet that is high in protein and sugar.
- Obesity or having had gastric bypass surgery.
- Having inflammatory bowel disease or chronic diarrhea.
Kidney stone symptoms
Individuals may not be aware that they have a stone until it begins to move. When this happens, they may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain during urination.
- Red, pinkish or a brown colored urine.
- Urine that is foul-smelling or appears cloudy.
- Pain that feels like it’s hitting in waves of varying intensity.
- Severe pain in the back or side(s) – in the area below your ribs.
- Feeling a persistent need to urinate or urinating more than usual.
- Dribbling urine in small amounts.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Fever, sometimes accompanied by chills.
Sometimes, individuals experience more serious symptoms, which will require immediate medical attention.
- Severe pain that prevents them from getting comfortable in any position.
- Experiencing severe pain, along with vomiting, nausea, fever and/or chills.
- Finding blood in the urine.
- Finding it difficult to urinate / urinary retention.
Kidney stone prevention
There are several steps that can be taken to help prevent the formation of kidney stones:
- Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids.
- Reduce the intake of animal proteins such as meat, eggs, and fish, especially if the individual is prone to calcium oxalate or uric acid stones.
- Reduce the intake of foods that are rich in calcium oxalate, such as spinach and rhubarb.
- Eat a low-sodium diet.
- Discuss, with a medical provider, if you should be taking calcium supplements.
Developing a kidney stone is a common problem for both men and women. If you are experiencing kidney stone symptoms, or have a history of kidney stones, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment.