Kidney stones: Prevention and Treatment

Intense lower back pain, nausea, fever, chills, and bloody, cloudy, or bad-smelling urine – these are the symptoms of a kidney stone, a solid object that can form in the urine as chemicals crystalize. More than 500.000 people go to the emergency room every year as the result of a kidney stone. Here are some of the most common questions we get asked on this topic:

  • What causes kidney stones? There are four types of kidney stone, of which the most common is calcium oxalate. The usual cause for this type of stone is not getting enough calcium or not getting enough fluids. The second most common type is uric acid, which can be caused by a diet high in purines, a compound found in shellfish and organ meat. Struvite kidney stones are caused by upper urinary tract infections. Cystine kidney stones are rare and largely hereditary. The most common causes of kidney stones in general include not drinking enough water, exercising too much or too little, eating too much salty or sugary food, obesity, and surgery for weight loss.

  • How do I know if I have a kidney stone? If you have a kidney stone you may experience intense pain on either side of your lower back, a lingering stomachache, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and bloody, cloudy, or bad-smelling urine. Severity of symptoms depends on the size of the stone.

  • How can they be prevented? The best thing you can do to prevent kidney stones is to drink more fluids, especially water. It’s also helpful to eat more fruits and vegetables and to reduce your intake of salt and animal proteins. Dairy products can also help.

  • What should I do if I have a kidney stone? If you suspect you might have a kidney stone, the first thing you should do is to see a doctor right away. Your doctor will probably tell you to drink more fluids, in the hope that you might pass the stone when urinating rather than needing surgery. If this doesn’t work, treatment options include shock-wave lithotripsy or percutaneous nephrolithotomy/nephrolithotripsy for especially large stones. Shock-wave lithotripsy is non-invasive, so it’s the preferred choice.

  • Who can get kidney stones? Anyone from the age of five and up can develop a kidney stone! About 19% of all men will develop a kidney stone at some point, and about 9% of women.

For more information, visit: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneystones

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