Throughout my adult life, I have come across friends who have suffered from kidney stones. From my observation, they are quite common among men and their lifestyles play a huge role on whether they will develop these stones or not. For me, they were initially a mystery. Most of the people suffering from the condition didn’t understand how they developed and therefore couldn’t provide a clear picture about the condition. This prompted me to conduct some research on kidney stones based on some of the questions I had concerning the condition. Here’s a short Q & A which will shed some light on kidney stones.
What are kidney stones?
These are crystals that form in the kidneys. These form when the urine is saturated with certain minerals such that they crystallize within the kidneys. The kidneys work is to filter out urine from the body. After development within the kidneys, the stones can remain within the kidneys or move to other parts of the urinary tract including the urerter, bladder or urethra.
In most cases, the stone is quite small and will pass through urine undetected. However, in severe cases, the stone can grow quite large up to a couple of millimeters. Some of the people I’ve come across with large kidney stones describe them as one of the most painful experiences they’ve had. The stone might squeeze against the walls of the kidneys, urerter, bladder or urethra as it tries to pass out through urine. The result is sharp pain.
Are there other symptoms?
The main symptom is pain in the lower back and lower abdomen. Passing urine that’s pink to brown in color is another symptom. The coloration is due to staining of the urine with blood if the stone scrapes the lining of the urinary tract. The affected person will also urinate more frequently. In severe cases, urine might turn cloudy due to infection of the wounds in the urinary tract.
Are there different types of kidney stones?
There are four main classifications of these stones and they are as follows. Calcium stones which are the most common are formed when there’s excess calcium in urine. The calcium combines with another compound such as oxalate. Uric acid stones are common in men and persons suffering from gout. Struvite stones are more common in women especially if they have urinary tract infection. Cystine stones are rare and found in persons with the genetic disorder cystinuria.
Who is at the highest risk?
Anyone can develop kidney stones. However, men have been found to be at highest risk especially in cases of calcium and uric acid stones. In addition, they are most common in people between ages of 20 and 40 years.
If the stones aren’t quite severe, they can be safely treated at home. Some of the home remedies include the following. Water is considered one of the best home remedies. It helps to keep the urine diluted. Taking foods which act as kidney tonic like kidney beans and basil help to relieve pain. In total, changing the diet to include foods which help neutralize the minerals responsible for the formation of kidney stones goes a long way.