Kidneys are responsible for urine formation in the body. They function to filter out by by-products of metabolism and secrete them out of the body in urine. They also help regulate the fluid status of the body by regulating the amount of urine formed with respect to the water intake.
Sometimes, certain salts and minerals tend to accumulate and stick to each together and form masses called as stones. These are usually formed in the kidneys and are painless when small. When they increase in size, travel down into ureters or obstruct the flow of urine, they give rise to pain.
• Painful/burning sensation while passing urine.
• Pain in the back near side of waist/below the ribs. When they travel down to ureters, they cause pain typically radiating from below ribs to the groin.
• A bloody tinge of urine.
1. Genetic Disturbances in Metabolism
The basic cause of kidney stone formation is increased concentration of salts/minerals in urine relative to the fluid content. These can be due to genetic disturbances in metabolism which lead to increased secretion of these compounds in urine like cystinuria and oxaluria.
2. High Intake of Proteins and Supplements
High dietary intake of proteins and grapefruit also lead to kidney stone formation. High and long-term intake of supplemental calcium also predisposes to calcium oxalate stones in kidney.
3. Bowel Conditions
People who have suffered from the problems of diarrhea or undergone urological surgeries have a higher risk of forming calcium oxalate kidney stones. The reason behind it is, that diarrhea lowers the water and fluid content in the kidney which further lower downs the urine volume. Due to this, the body starts absorbing extra oxalate from the intestine, resulting in the formation of oxalates (stones) in the kidney.
4. Low Intake of Calcium
Contrarily, low dietary intake of calcium also leads to the stone formation as the dietary oxalate does not get bound to calcium in the gut and more and more oxalate get absorbed into the blood, which gets secreted into urine and form urinary stones.
People suffering from different disorders such as heart, lungs or diabetes, are at times advised medicines which include Calcium and Vitamin C supplements. These medicines may cause the problem of kidney stone. If someone is already suffering from stone problems, he must consult his health care provider beforehand.
Also, these factors are compounded by low fluid intake/dehydration which increases chances of kidney stone formation. Further, the chance of having kidney stones is proportionate to family history. For example, if anyone in the blood relation is already suffering from kidney stone problems, such as a parent or a sibling, you need to be extra cautious.
Usually, the symptoms described earlier clinically hints to stone formation. Investigations like blood tests, urine test (salt and mineral content in urine), X-ray of kidney-ureter-bladder, CT scan help to finally diagnose the stone and its location
Here are some of the remedies that may help you prevent the formation of kidney stones in your body:
1. Increasing daily fluid/water intake. Health care providers recommend kidney stones patients to drink at least 3 liters of water each day to increase the formation of urine. Make sure not to drink sugar-sweetened or alcoholic drinks.
2. Moderate oral calcium intake – this binds to oxalate in gut and decreases its absorption in blood and subsequent secretion in urine
3. Increasing citric acid ingestion-lemon water/orange juice.
4. Reducing the amount of salt in your diet. The reason behind it is that increased sodium concentration can cause both urine calcium and cysteine to be too high. We advise you to avoid foods that have a lot of salt.
5. Limiting dietary supplements containing calcium and other minerals. Instead, enrich your diet with fresh vegetables and fruits. They are enriched in potassium, fiber, magnesium, antioxidants, phytate, and citrate, which prevents the formation of kidney stones.
• Majority of the kidney stones are small in size (< 5mm ) and tend to spontaneously pass out in urine. So the mainstay of these small stones is increasing the fluid intake that helps to flush them out. During this period, the patient is prescribed a painkiller to provide symptom relief.
• Diuretics increase urine formation and help to flush out stones. Thiazides diuretics, in particular, decreases urinary calcium secretion and decrease the formation of calcium stones.
• Allopurinol decreases urinary uric acid and decreases uric acid stone formation.
• In cases of larger stones formation, treatment modalities available are extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) which breaks down larger stones into smaller ones and then these small stones are passed in the urine. Large kidney stones are also removed surgically by percutaneous nephrolithotripsy (PCNL).
Converse thoroughly about your symptoms with your healthcare doctor and start treatment as soon as possible.