When salts in the urine form a solid, kidney stones occur. These stones can cause infection due to blocking the regular flow of urine, causing infection, kidney damage and in more serious cases, kidney failure. More than one million Australians have kidney stones and many kidney stones can go great lengths of time undetected.What causes Kidney Stones?
The reason for kidney stones is one of many. There is a one in 35 risk of women developing kidney stones and a one in 10 risk for men.
Some reasons for them developing are:The amount of calcium is too high, too much uric acid as well as too many other chemical substances in the urine.
Not enough of the chemicals in the urine which INHIBIT kidney stones from forming
Dehydration of the body which leads to a low urine level and concentrated urine. This leads to the forming of crystals in the urine.
Bowel abnormally absorbs stone forming substances.
Rare inherited conditions
An overactive parathyroid gland which causes calcium to shift out of the bones and into the blood.
What kind of symptoms are there?
If the urine becomes infected there can be sweating, shivers and fever.
Blood in the urine
A very uncomfortable pain in the lower back just below the ribs which can radiate to the front of the body and also toward the groin. (Called Renal Colic)
How can I tell if I have Kidney Stones?
Not all Kidney stones cause discomfort therefore can go undetected for a quite a while or are discovered by pure chance. The usual ways to tell if you have kidney stones is to go straight to the Doctor at any sign of discomfort when urinating or any of the symptoms listed above.
Stones in the urinary tract or kidney can be detected by:
X-Ray - contrast dye is injected into the vein before X-Rays are taken.
Ultrasound examination of the kidneys and urinary tract by soundwaves.
What kind of problems can Kidney Stones cause?
The most direct problems caused by Kidney stones are they block the natural flow of urine from the bladder. This can lead to urinary tract infections. Permanent kidney damage can occur as well as the possibility of kidney failure. This can cause pus formation spreading germs into the bloodstream and this can be fatal.
Is there treatment for Kidney Stones?
Research and the recent development of new techniques means that Kidney Stones and their removal does not necessarily mean a long and painful stay in hospital. In the past Kidney Stone operations would have meant weeks off work. Nowadays a patient may be in and out of hospital within 48 hours. Some treatment for Kidney Stones can also be by way of a cystoscopy this is where an instrument is introduced to the bladder. Another form of treatment is to direct a special instrument through the skin and on to the kidney stone under x-ray control to be removed by ultrasound waves. Some types of stones can be treated and dissolved with medication.
How can I prevent Kidney Stones?
If you have a urinary tract infection, don't ignore it. See your Doctor as soon as possible for treatment.
Make sure you drink enough fluids about 2-3 litres every day. Avoid becoming dehydrated. If you have developed kidney stones then medication may be prescribed to stop further substances getting into the urine which cause the stones. Some change in diet may be required.
Where can you go for more information?
- Michelle Palmer