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Also known as renal calculi, kidney stones are small, hard mineral deposits that originate in your kidneys but can develop anywhere in the urinary tract including the bladder, kidneys, urethra and ureters. Often, stones are formed when the urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together. There can be more than one stone in the kidney or ureter at the same time. While small stones usually pass the urine stream without causing any symptoms, large stones (3 millimetres at least) can cause blockage and pain.
Kidney stones show no symptoms until they move around in your kidneys or pass into your ureter – the tube connecting your bladder and kidney. The following symptoms may occur at that time:
Kidney stones are formed when your urine contains more crystal forming substances such as oxalate, calcium and uric acid than it can dilute. The chances of kidney stone increase if your urine lacks substances that keep crystals from sticking together. There are many types of kidney stones such as calcium stones, struvite stones, uric acid stones and cystine stones, etc. Knowing the type can help determine the cause and the ways to reduce your risk of acquiring kidney stones.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:
Kidney stones can be prevented through a combination of lifestyle modifications and medications. You may reduce your risk of kidney stones by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Foods that are rich in oxalates such as okra, swiss chard, nuts, tea, spinach, soy products and chocolates must also be avoided. Preferably, go for a diet that is low in salt and animal protein. While calcium rich foods cause no harm, steer clear from calcium supplements. A dietitian can be referred for getting a diet chart that’s in sync with your condition and goals.
The amount of minerals and acid in the urine can be controlled with medication that can help with certain kinds of stones. The type of medication you must take depend on the type of kidney stones you have.
Kidney stone treatment depends on the type of stone and the severity of symptoms. Small stones can be flushed out by drinking more water, relieving pain or discomfort with the help of certain pain relievers recommended by the doctor and through medicines known as alpha blockers that help pass the kidney stones more quickly. A more extensive kidney stone treatment such as shock wave or surgery is required if the stones are big in size.
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