Kidney Stone Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods
The kidneys’ function is to remove waste materials from the body. On the other hand, kidney stones may form in the kidneys, which have the task of filtering some substances necessary for the body and adjusting their levels, depending on the problems in the mechanism related to this task.
Although it is still not clear why these mechanisms are impaired, it is thought that kidney stone occurs due to various factors, from nutrition to genetics, from geography to gender.
Kidney stones might not show any symptoms for a long time or sometimes fall into the urinary tract and cause patients to apply to health institutions with unbearable pain.
Reason for Kidney Stones
While some minerals in the blood are excreted from the kidneys, they are dissolved in the urine in a certain solubility state. However, due to the decrease in solubility and accumulation of crystals for various reasons, crystals collapse, and stones form in chamber-like collecting systems in the kidney.
Calcium oxalate stones make up about 80 percent of the stones. In addition, stones due to infections, uric acid stones, cystine stones, and calcium phosphate stones are also seen.
Factors related to nutrition are essential in kidney stone formation. The most important of these is not drinking enough fluids. High animal protein intake, high sodium consumption, excessive use of refined sugars, and excessive consumption of coffee or cocoa-like foods can be counted among the reasons. Urinary tract infections, structural disorders in the kidney, some drugs, and genetic factors can also be effective in stone formation.
While tiny stones can pass through the urinary tract unnoticed, they can get stuck in the ureter that connects the kidney and the bladder as the stone grows.
The most common complaint in patients with kidney stones is pain. In some patients, the pain is so mild that it cannot be noticed, while it can be extremely severe in others. Pain caused by kidney stones is usually seen as pain that appears and disappears at intervals. Patients often describe the pain as "flank pain.” Apart from this pain, symptoms of kidney stones include:
- Pain when urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty urinating or urinating in small amounts
- Fever and chills
- In some patients, kidney stones can be detected incidentally due to tests performed for other purposes without any complaints.
In kidney stone disease and the patient's history and physical examination, urinary system radiography and ultrasonography can be performed to support the findings and clarify the diagnosis. When these two tests are used together, a considerable part of kidney stones can be detected.
Urine analysis is performed to detect occasional urinary tract infections or bleeding in the urine due to the stone. In addition, blood triggers can be used to determine the stones’ nature or investigate their causes. Non-contrast Computed Tomography (CT) can be taken to detect tiny stones or to see the anatomy of the kidney in patients who are scheduled for surgery. An intravenous pyelography (IVP) is another method used to detect kidney stones and evaluate the urinary tract; a detectable drug is administered through the patient’s vascular access under X-ray. The blood is drawn from the kidneys. After filtering, X-rays are taken as the drug passes through the urinary tract, so that blood flow in the body, kidney stones, clogged areas in the urinary tract, and kidneys can be observed.
After the diagnosis of kidney stone is made with the examinations, the most critical factors in the treatment planning are the size of the stone and its location in the kidney. As the size of the kidney stone increases, the patient’s chance to spontaneously pass the stone decreases. In addition, stones located in the upper part are more likely to fall in kidney collecting systems than those found in the lower part.
The type of treatment is determined by the severity of the patient's pain due to the stone, whether the stone causes any damage to the kidney and whether it impairs kidney functions.
It is essential to determine the underlying cause of these stones in treating frequently recurring kidney stones. For this, it may be necessary to perform detailed laboratory tests and check the levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, uric acid, vitamin D, and parathormone in the blood.
It is essential to examine the patient's urine pH, urinary cystine, uric acid, and oxalate levels and treat them if an underlying metabolic or hormonal cause is detected in the treatment and prevention of kidney stones.
Structural defects in the kidney or urinary tract are investigated in detail with radiological examinations, and if necessary, they can be corrected by surgical methods.
In stubborn kidney stones, drug treatment can be used according to the type of stone. Although the treatment method and the drugs to be used vary, the primary purpose of the treatment is to increase the solubility of the crystals in the urine and prevent them from collapsing in the kidney and turning into stones