Understanding Kidney Stones (Urolithiasis)

A rather painful condition known as kidney stones or renal calculi has been around thousands of years. Kidney stones (urolithiasis) are concentrations of minerals that have dissolved in the urine. The sizes can be as big as a golf ball or as small as a grain of sand. In most cases they will pass normally though urine without incident however at time it can be a painful passage. Every years there are nearly three million visits to the doctor for these and another half million end up in the emergency room with them.

There are signs that will show if a person will be more prone to these painful stones than others, one of which is a family history of them. There are blood and urine tests to find the specific factors that put a person at risk. When the factors are known they can be taken care of to cut down on the risks. At times a person will require medication in order to keep stones from forming. Should an infection be caused as a result in someone with continuous infections of the urinary tract a doctor can remove them. The infection will be followed to ensure that it is completely gone. The fact is that water is the best when it comes to the prevention.

Underlying metabolic conditions can cause kidney stones.

o Renal tubular acidosis

o Dent’s disease

o Medullary sponge kidney

o Crohn’s disease

These disorders are typically screened for when patients have frequent reoccurrences. These are usually done with the aide of urine tests.

Water fluoridation has also been linked to problem with kidney stones. A study was published in the Urological Research journal that shows an association between high levels of fluoride in water and painful stones. In this study urolithiasis was 4.6 times more prevalent in areas with high fluoride content.

There are a number of different types of stones:

1. Calcium oxalate stones – Caused from lack of calcium

2. Uric acid – Caused from to much protein

3. Sturvite – more common in women as they are more prone to kidney and bladder infections. These develop when the chemical balance of the urine is off from a urinary tract infection (e.g., bladder infection)

4. Calcium phosphate – generally occur in patients with hormonal or metabolic disorders such as renal tubular acidosis and hyperparathyroidism

5. Cystine – A rare congenital condition that keeps amino acid in protein from dissolving. This type requires life-long therapy.

There are a wide-range of symptoms that go along with having kidney stones, such as:

o Puss or blood in the urine as a result of damage to the kidney wall or urethra.

o A burning sensation when urinating

o The amount of urine produced can be cut down on due to an obstruction.

o Vomiting or nausea can also be caused along with fevers and chills.

o Back pain and spasms of pain

Where the pain is located and how bad it is will aid in the diagnosis of kidney stones. Stones can generally be discovered from the symptoms as well as taking x-rays or ultra sounds and running other tests.

Now that you have a basic understanding of kidney stones you should see your doctor if you think you might have them.