Do you have a severe pain in your side that seems to travel to your back? Does it make you feel nauseous?
You might have a kidney stone. A kidney stone is a salt or mineral deposit that forms inside your kidneys when the minerals crystallize and stick together. A kidney stone causes no permanent damage if you detect it on time, but it can cause severe pain and discomfort.
Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones
But just the pain and nausea are not enough cause to assume you have a kidney stone. Here are some things to look out for to determine whether you have kidney stones:
- You have a pain in the sides of your stomach - below your ribs.
-Your back hurts. The pain can make it difficult to walk as long as the pain lasts.
- The pain also moves towards your lower belly and groin region.
- You have waves of pain which sometimes increases and sometimes decreases.
- You have nausea and/or vomiting.
- You feel the need to urinate more often but you’re only able to do so in small amounts. It might also be difficult or painful for you to pass urine.
- In some cases, it might cause an infection and you might have fever and chills.
- Your urine might be dark colored or have a pink, red or brown coloration due to the concentration changing.
The pain can change when the kidney stone moves in your urinary tract - so the location of your pain may also change, and the pain may increase or decrease in intensity.
How Does Your Doctor Spot It?
Based on your report, the doctor will run some tests if they suspect that you might have a kidney stone.
- Blood tests for uric acid or calcium levels of blood.
- Urine testing for stone-forming or stone-preventing substances.
- Imaging by X rays or CT scans
- Analysis of passed stones can reveal the causes and help with treatment.
Usually, small stones require non-invasive treatment, and it involves simply passing the stone.
- Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day can help you pass the stone through your urine. Hydration is usually what is recommended.
- Pain relief medications will be prescribed to deal with the pain of passing the stone.
- Other medications help relax the muscles in your ureter, helping to pass the stone more quickly.
- If the stone is larger, sound waves will be used to break the stone down so that it can be passed with urine. This is called Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL). It lasts about 40-60 minutes, and usually is done under anesthetics.
- Using a scope - a tube with a camera will be passed through the bladder to locate the stone and break it so it can be passed through your urine.
Through it all, doctors will try to give you some relief by prescribing painkillers as well as making sure you are hydrated well.
Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones
Whether you’ve already had kidney stones or not, kidney stones have no definite cause. But your lifestyle still plays a huge role and there are some things you can do to avoid or reduce the chance of you developing a kidney stone.
Drink enough water:
You need to drink 2-2.5 liters of water a day because dehydration can be a cause of kidney stones. Increase your water intake in summer or if you are sweating a lot. The lack of water makes urine concentrated, allowing the minerals to crystallize and form stones.
Eat less salt and animal protein: Salt and animal protein have also been linked to stones, so avoid heavily salted foods, and watch the amount of animal protein you eat. Try to eat protein from legumes and pulses more often instead.
Avoid foods rich in oxalate: These foods cause calcium deposit stones, so you need to regulate the amount of these that you eat. Oxalate foods include spinach, beetroot, okra, soy products, nuts, and sweet potatoes.
Watch the calcium: You still need calcium-rich food unless your doctor advises otherwise. However, it is best to avoid excessive calcium which occurs if you take supplements for it. The calcium in food should be your only source of calcium.
Although kidney stones can be caused by different reasons, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle and drinking enough water everyday can go a great way to help you avoid them. Sometimes, kidney stones may be caused by genetic causes, so if you have a parent or relative with kidney stones, make sure to follow the above tips and keep yourself as safe as you can.