What are Kidney Stones?
Resembling grains of sand (usually yellow or brown in color), kidney stones are small stones that are lodged in the kidney or appear in the urine. These grains vary in size. They can also be single stones.
These stones develop when salts in the urine form a solid crystal. When the stones become wedged in the urethra or the bladder, fresh deposits can accumulate around them and the flow of urine can be blocked.
This blockage causes agonizing pain which can be felt in the back or side, and increases the risk of kidney and urinary tract infections, as well as the possibility of the infection spreading into the bloodstream.
Diagnosing Kidney Stones
The diagnosis is based on the analysis of symptoms, a physical examination, and the medical history of the patient.
Tests to Diagnose Kidney Stones
- Urine analysis
-To detect the presence of blood and bacteria in the urine.
-High frequency sound waves are used to produce images of internal organs such as the kidneys and the bladder. Ultrasound can help to visualize stones in these organs as well as in the ureters and urethra. Unfortunately, very small stones are not often visible on ultrasound.
- Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
-During this procedure, a series of X-rays is taken after injecting a contrast agent (dye) into the vein. As this dye is filtered in the kidneys and excreted in the urine, blockages to in the kidney or to the flow of the urine can be detected and the location of the blockage determined.
- Retrograde pyelogram
-Following cystoscopy (where the interior of the bladder is examined by an endoscope) dye is injected directly into the urinary system (against the normal outflow) and then its outflow is monitored. This allows for a more detailed picture of the urinary collecting and voiding system, and is useful in instances where renal function is impaired.
- Computerized tomography (CT scan)
-A scanner and computer are used to create images of the urinary system during this procedure.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
The signs and symptoms of kidney stones in the kidneys, urethra, or bladder include:
- Severe pain in the back, extending to the bladder and groin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Small stones that look like gravel are excreted during urination
- Sweating and fever accompanied by shivers (rigors)
- Urgent need to urinate
- Bloody urine
What Causes Kidney Stones?
There are many factors that may contribute to the causes of kidney stones, and sometimes it is a series of factors acting together.
Possible Causes of Kidney Stones
- Inadequate fluid intake
- Reduced urinary flow and volume
- Chemical levels in the urine that are too high, such as calcium, phosphate, oxalate, or uric acid
- Chemical levels in the urine that are too low, such as citrate
- As a side effect of certain medications
- Recurring urinary infections
- Family history of stone formation
- Rare genetic conditions
- Anatomical abnormalities
The most common stones that contain calcium are caused by:
- Very high bowel absorption of calcium or oxalate
- Very high escape of calcium phosphate or oxalate into the urine
- Overactive parathyroid glands in the neck
Smaller instances of kidney stones may also be due to:
- The body’s ability to break down and use chemicals, particularly if there is a high level of uric acid in the urine
- The structure or metabolism of the kidney
Help for Kidney Stones
Kidney stones treatment depends on the size, type, and underlying cause. Usually, stones that are smaller than 4mm pass freely, while those larger than 5mm seldom pass naturally. They can be extremely painful, but generally small stones do not have to be removed.
The best way to treat them is to let them pass on their own. Stones may need to be removed if they struggle to pass through, block the urine flow, grow larger, or cause bleeding and infection. Most stones can be treated without surgery.
Kidney stones treatment options such as conventional medicine, complementary therapy, and natural remedies can offer pain relief and prevent symptoms of kidney stones from recurring.
- Oral analgesics may be prescribed to reduce moderate pain.
- Injectable medications may be administered intravenously (IV) or intramuscularly (by injection) for severe pain.
- To reduce nausea and vomiting or prevent stone formation, prescription medication may be administered.
- There are many different laser and surgical options used to remove or disintegrate larger stones.
Natural and holistic therapies such as herbal and homeopathic remedies can help to discourage the formation of stones as well as relieve the discomfort and pain associated with symptoms of kidney stones. Herbal and homeopathic remedies can provide an option to conventional medication. Gentle yet effective to use without any harmful side effects, natural kidney stone treatments also address the overall needs of the individual’s health and well-being. A combination of carefully selected ingredients such as Agothosma betulina, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Melissa officinalis, Avena sativa, Hypericum perforatum), Vaccinium myrtillus, and Echinacea angustifolia provide symptomatic relief. Used in conjunction with conventional medicine and complementary therapy, natural remedies will help ensure that you live a healthier life.
Complementary therapy may help to prevent the recurrence of kidney stones. Some good examples are:
- Body cleansing
- Nutritional therapy
- Vitamin and mineral therapy
- Aerobics, swimming, martial arts, and stretching
- Yoga, meditation, and tai chi
More Information on Kidney Stones
There are several ways to eliminate the factors that are common causes of kidney stones.
Tips for the Prevention of Kidney Stones
- Drink plenty of water, at least eight glasses a day, for proper hydration
- Eat green, leafy vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and fish and poultry in small portions
- Drink lemonade with real lemon juice, as lemon juice contains citrate
- Limit sugar, alcohol, protein, dairy products, salt, caffeine, and refined white flour products such as pasta
- Exercise regularly, as physical activity helps to remove the stone
- Increase your intake of magnesium and vitamin B6 supplements
- Use hot packs or castor oil packs to relieve the pain and cramping