Nephrolithiasis, commonly known as kidney stone disease is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It is the most common disease that affects urinary tracts. The incidence of kidney stones disease globally is on the rise, with an estimated prevalence in about 15 percent of the world population. Kidney stones disease affects people of all ages, sex, and races. Research indicates that about 7 percent of all women and 13 percent of all men in their lifetime will develop kidney stone disease. A body of evidence shows that kidney stone disease is connected with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and end-stage renal failure.
What is Kidney Stone?
Your kidney performs many functions including the removal of fluids and waste from your blood to form urine. Often, your body might contain excess certain waste especially minerals and less fluid in your blood. This causes the waste to build up and cling together within your kidney. These lumps of waste are referred to as Kidney stones.
Kidney stones remain one of the most painful medical conditions. It is usually formed within the kidney, but they can travel down to other parts of the urinary system including ureter, bladder, and urethra.
Types of Kidney Stones
There are four different types of kidney stones diseases. These include:
- Calcium stones: This is the most common type of kidney stones with a prevalence of about 80 percent in all cases. Excess calcium in your blood may lead to the development of calcium stone type of Kidney stone.
- Uric acid stones: This is common in about 5 to 10 percent of all cases of kidney stones disease. Uric acid is a waste product produced from many chemical changes within the body. It does not dissolve well in acidic urine. Conditions such as gout, obesity, chronic diarrhea, type II diabetes, and more can make your urine become acidic.
- Struvite/ infection stones: This like uric acid stones is prevalent in about 10 percent of all cases of kidney stones diseases. Struvite kidney stones have been linked with an excess amount of alkaline substances in the blood due to bacteria infection. Struvite stones grow very fast and can become very large.
- Cystine stones: This is a very rare type of kidney stones with a prevalence of about a percent in all kidney stones diseases. An excessive amount of cystine in your urine causes formation of cystine stones.
They all have different treatment options. The individual treatment option would depend on the type of stones.
Diagnoses of Kidney Stones
Your doctor can start by asking you some questions regarding the signs and symptoms you have, your medical history, and some physical examination of your body parts.
Other tests to diagnose kidney stones include:
- Blood tests for uric acid, calcium, phosphorus, and electrolytes
- Creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) to assess kidney functioning
- Examination of excreted stones to ascertain their type
- Urinalysis to test for bacteria, crystals, blood, and white cells.
Your doctor might request the following tests to rule out obstruction:
- Abdominal X-rays
- Abdominal CT scan
- MRI scan of the kidney and abdomen
- intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
- Ultrasound of the kidney (the preferred test)
- retrograde pyelogram.
Different factors can increase your likelihood of developing kidney stones. That said, the greatest risk factor for kidney stones is passing out less than a liter of urine in a day. This makes kidney stones more rampant among premature infants with kidney problems. However, people between the ages of 20 and 50 are more likely to have kidney stones. In the United States,
men are more likely to have kidney stones than women. This is according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Furthermore, a history of kidney stones increases your risk.
Other risk factors include:
- A diet with high levels of salt, protein, or glucose
- Inflammatory bowel diseases that enhance calcium absorption
- Hyperparathyroid condition
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Taking medications including triamterene diuretics, calcium-based antacids, and antiseizure drugs.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
The symptoms of kidney stones are connected with their location; either it is in the ureter, kidney, or urinary bladder. Kidney stones cause severe pain. You may not feel any symptoms of kidney stones until the stone starts moving down your ureters. This severe pain is referred to as renal colic. You may experience pain on one side of your abdomen or back.
In men, pain may extend to the groin area. The pain of renal colic is intermittent but can be severe. People with renal colic appear restless.
Other Symptoms of kidney Stones:
- blood in the urine (red, pink, or brown urine)
- Vomiting Blood in the urine (pink, brown, or red urine)
- Discolored or foul-smelling urine
- Discolored or putrid-smelling urine
- Passing out a small amount of urine
You may not experience any symptom if your kidney stone is small, as the stone eases out through your urinary tract.
Kidney stones are treatable, however, adjusting your lifestyle habits by paying close attention to your diets, getting more active, getting hydrated, to name a few can lower your risk of developing kidney stones.