One of the most common kidney stone symptoms is pain in the flank area.
The main function of the kidney is to remove waste products from the blood as well as produce urine. It also regulates fluid and electrolyte levels which is essential to maintain the body’s function. From the kidney, urine is drained to the bladder through the ureter, a narrow tube. The urge to urinate usually occurs when the bladder is full. The urine from the bladder is then removed from the body through the urethra.
In some cases, the chemicals or waste products in the urine crystallize, forming a kidney stone. The stone formed usually is smaller than sand grain, however, as time passes by; it gradually grows bigger or larger. The presence of stone in the urinary tract is known as Urolithiasis, ureterolithiasis in the ureter, and nephrolithiasis in the kidney.
When the stone remains in the kidney, a problem rarely occurs. However, in cases wherein the stone moves into the ureter, it may result to blockage. One of the functions of the kidney is to continually produce urine and if a blockage occurs, pressure may build up behind the stone. This may result to swelling of the kidney. The pressure in the kidney is also the main cause of pain. Pressure in the ureter may also push the stone further into the bladder. When this occurs, kidney stone symptoms are usually resolved.
Causes of Kidney Stone Symptoms
The exact cause for the formation of kidney stones is unknown. However, certain factors play a role in the development of a stone. Kidney stones are formed when urine components like acids, minerals, and fluids are out of balance. This result to the urine to contain more substances that cause crystal formation such as: uric acid, oxalate, and calcium, and less fluid to dilute the substances. The urine may also have fewer substances necessary to prevent the crystals from becoming stones or sticking together. This increases the risk for the development of kidney stones.
A common risk factor for the development of kidney stone symptoms includes not drinking enough fluids. It is essential to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day and avoid drinking grapefruit juices. Taking more than the daily recommendations of vitamins D, C, and calcium also increases the risk of a person to kidney stones. Having a diet high in oxalate, sodium, and protein also increases the risk. Other risk factors include: weight gain and certain medications such as: indinavir (Crixivan) and acetazolamide (Diamox).
Types of Kidney Stones
In most cases, crystals that form kidney stones are of more than one type. Identifying the type of kidney stone may help the physician and patient in understanding the cause of stone formation. It also helps in treatment, and prevention of additional or future formation of kidney stones.
The most common type of kidney stones is calcium stones, which is usually made of calcium oxalate. The high levels of oxalate are usually found in chocolates, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. The liver is also responsible for the production of oxalate. Other cause for the increase of oxalate or calcium levels in the urine include: metabolic disorders, intestinal bypass surgery, high vitamin D intake, and other dietary factors. Calcium stones may also be in the form of calcium phosphate. Other stones include struvite stones that are formed due to infection. Uric acid stones those are due to high-protein diet, dehydration, and gout. Other types of kidney stones may also occur but is usually rare.
Kidney Stone Symptoms
A kidney stone may not manifest and symptoms or signs when small and still in the kidney. However, in cases wherein the stone moves into the ureter, kidney stone symptoms may occur. These include symptoms such as: severe flank pain, pain that radiates to the groin and lower abdomen, painful urination, brown, red or pink urine, nausea and vomiting, persistent urge to urinate, and chills and fever if an infection occurs.
Kidney Stone Symptoms Treatment
Kidney stone symptoms treatment may vary depending on the cause, severity, and type of stone. In most cases, invasive treatment is not necessary. For small stones, it may be passed out of the body through drinking liberal amounts of water. An individual may need to drink as much as 2 to 3 liters of water a day to flush out the stone. Discomfort brought by kidneys stones may also be treated with pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
In some cases, conservative measures may not be effective to treat kidney stone symptoms. This is because the stone may be too large that it may cause damage or bleeding when passed on. It may require a more invasive type of treatment such as the use of sound waves known as lithotripsy. Lithotripsy involves breaking the stones into pieces that are tiny enough to be passed out of the body. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the stones.