Did you know around 9 percent of the population or one in 11 people will get their kidney stones at some point in their lifetime? Kidney stones are painful and can be difficult to pass. Let us find out what kidney stones are and when to see a urologist to fight the kidney stones and how to avoid the recurrences.
What is a kidney stone?
Kidney stones are small crystals which form from different substances in the urine. They can cause severe pain, kidney infection and other damage.
There are four kinds of kidney stones:
- Calcium stones: They are the most common and caused by several factors such as diet rich in oxalate i.e. nuts, beets, chocolate and spinach or high doses or vitamin D.
- Uric acid stones: They are caused by a lack of fluid or too much animal protein.
- Struvite stones: It can be caused by kidney or urinary infections and they are large and can show few symptoms.
- Cystine stones: They are created from a genetic disorder.
What are the symptoms?
- Painful, discoloured or foul smelling urine
- Severe pain in the side, abdomen, back or groin
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent or difficult urination
What Can I Do?
- Eat a balanced diet, avoid too many foods that are high in oxalate
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day
- Some medications such as antibiotics and calcium supplements help to prevent the kidney stones. But most often they are used as a last resort
When Should I See a Urologist?
Depending on the severity and type, the kidney stones can cause a variety of symptoms. It can be tough to tell if you have kidney stones, let alone whether you need immediate medical attention. So how to know whether you need to go to the ER or make appointment to see a urologist?
Some of the common non-immediate symptoms are concerning but not urgent. Therefore, if you experience any of these symptoms then you should schedule an appointment with the urologist to receive an evaluation for treatment: blood in urine, side, pelvic or lower back pain, persistent or painful urination and frequent urinary tract infections.
Often the kidney stone symptoms need a visit to the emergency room and these include fever, nausea or vomiting, severe, persistent pain, foul smelling or cloudy urine and urine blockage. If you experience any of these symptoms related to kidney stones, you should visit the ER. Doctors will perform an evaluation to determine if the kidney stone needs to be removed naturally or surgically or if it have caused a more serious underlying condition.
How to prevent a recurrence?
If you’ve already experience the pain and discomfort related to the kidney stones, then probably you don’t want to go through it ever again. People who have had kidney stones have a 50 percent risk to get it again within ten years.
Here are ways to prevent a recurrence of kidney stones:
- Drink plenty of fluids: One of the significant things can do after you have had kidney stones is drink plenty of fluids. It will flush unnecessary matter out of your system and prevent the substances from building up and forming more kidney stones.
- Reduce sodium intake: A certain amount of sodium is required for your body to function properly, but excess of it can lead to a build up of material resulting in kidney stones. Hence, minimize sodium as much as possible.
- Eat calcium oxalate foods together: Depending on what your stone is made o, you should reduce the intake of oxalate rich foods. But if you have been eating oxalate rich foods, then eat foods high in calcium too as it will bind the oxalate to prevent in from forming kidney stones.
- Take your doctor’s advice: The most important thing you can do is listen to the doctor who will give specific advice for your treatment plan when you have the first kidney stone. Follow their advice to reduce your risk to develop another kidney stone. The recovery and prevention process involves changes in lifestyle, medication, etc.
- Limit animal protein: Reduce the amount of animal protein you are eating, especially if you have had uric acid kidney stones in the past. Most forms of animal protein such as fish, meat and eggs are broken down into uric acid in the urine that will result in a higher risk of kidney stones.