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Kidney stones have a pretty famous reputation. People will often say that kidney stones are almost as painful as childbirth. That’s pretty bad. The actual size of kidney stones is very small, yet the pain they can cause can be excruciating. So what are kidney stones? Who is at risk for them? Is there any way to avoid that nasty kidney stone pain?
What are they?
I think most people know more about the pain kidney stones can cause than what kidney stones actually are. As the name suggests, these stones are formed in the kidneys. Kidney stones form when there are excessive mineral deposits in the kidneys. These minerals clump together to form sharp crystalline stones. Kidney stones form within the kidney and then have to pass through the urinary tract, traveling through the ureters, bladder, and then finally through the urethra. Kidney stones cause pain as they travel through the body because they are sharp and typically wider than the ureter tubes and urethra.
There are a few different types of kidney stones. Depending on what excess minerals were in your kidneys, you could have calcium, struvite, uric acid, or cystine stones. The most common type of stone is a calcium stone. Struvite stones normally build up in response to a urinary tract infection. Uric acid stones are more common in people who suffer from gout. Cystine stones are the least common, and they form in people with a hereditary disease that causes their kidneys to make excess amino acids
The size of a kidney stone varies wildly. Some kidney stones can be smaller than 5mm while larger kidney stones can get up to over 10mm in size. The larger the kidney stone is, the more painful it will be to pass, and if it gets large enough, treatment may be required to help pass it.
Who is at risk for getting kidney stones?
Both men and women are at risk for kidney stones. Men have around a 20% chance of getting kidney stones while women have a 10% chance. After you’ve had kidney stones once, you are more likely to get them again.
How can you prevent kidney stones?
Although everyone is at some degree of risk for getting kidney stones, there are certain precautions you can take to try and prevent them. Drinking plenty of water helps keep the urinary tract clean and flush out excess mineral deposits. Cutting back on sodium can also help prevent kidney stones. Getting a good amount of exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can also help.
What are the symptoms of kidney stones?
The symptoms of kidney stones are pretty clear. Idahourology.com says that symptoms include painful and frequent urination, blood in the urine, nausea, vomiting, and pain in the midback or side.
What is the treatment of kidney stones?
Some smaller kidney stones don’t actually require any extra treatment. By drinking plenty of water, it may be possible to just naturally pass the kidney stones as you urinate. But larger and more painful kidney stones could require surgery or other treatment. Some treatments use sound waves to break larger kidney stones into smaller pieces that are easier to pass, other surgeries include manually removing the stones.