Kidney stones are hard clusters of deposits of certain substances like calcium, oxalate, uric acid, phosphate, etc. These develop usually in the kidneys, hence the name kidney stones. This is also known as nephrolithiasis. They are pretty harmless when they are sitting inside the kidneys. But, if they become mobile and travel from kidney to the other parts of the urinary system, like ureters, they can be extremely painful. Hence, it is necessary to get rid of them at the earliest possible.
How Do You Get Rid of a Kidney Stone?
The treatment to get rid of the kidney stones can depend upon the type of the stone, the size of the stone and the location of the stone. There are four major types of stones- calcium stones (usually occurring as clumps of calcium oxalate or sometimes calcium phosphate), uric acid stones (clumps formed due to excess uric acid), cystine stones (formed as a result of excess amino acids) and struvite stones (formed as a result of reaction to some infection of the urinary tract).
The treatment to get rid of kidney stone can be broadly categorized into two types- non-invasive treatment and invasive treatment.
Non-Invasive Treatment- This can be followed when the size of the kidney stone is not very large and it can be excreted in the urine with just a bit of intervention. This protocol may include just upping your water content to the required quantity per day, so that the stone is flushed out with the urine. Sometimes, use of some medicines can be advised to encourage the passage of the stone through the ureters, by relaxing the muscles of the ureters, thereby causing less pain and quick passage. Pain relievers can be prescribed to help alleviate the mild pain which can occur at the time of the passage of the kidney stone.
Invasive Treatment- this protocol can be required if the kidney stones are of a considerably larger size and cannot be passed through routine non-invasive method. Generally, large stones also cause symptoms, one of them being severe pain. These stones may cause bleeding while moving, damage the kidney or may cause frequent urinary tract infections. This treatment protocol may include several procedures, like surgery, using sound waves (lithotripsy), etc.
For the kidney stone surgical procedure, a small incision is made in the back and a small telescope and instruments are inserted through it to remove the stone.
In lithotripsy, the sound waves are passed to create strong vibrations which can break the kidney stone into tiny pieces which can then be passed easily in the urine.
However, this can cause some pain, as the pieces move in the urinary tract, accompanied with bleeding and bruises.
Sometimes, to remove a small kidney stone, a ureteroscope can be used, which is inserted through the urethra and the bladder up to the ureter. Then the stone is caught or broken into tiny pieces. This procedure may require local or general anesthesia.
Sometimes, kidney stones are related to the parathyroid gland. When parathyroid hormone is produced in large quantities, it may increase the calcium levels in the blood, which in turn may cause calcium stones in the kidneys. In this case, the removal of the excess growth in the parathyroid gland is advised, in order to bring the parathyroid hormone under control. And this in turn will resolve the frequent formation of stones.
Along with the necessary treatment, certain lifestyle changes must be made, so that one can prevent oneself from the recurrence of the kidney stones. These changes vary again according to the type of the stone and include drinking sufficient amounts of water and fluids throughout the day, eating foods that are less in oxalate content, eating a diet which is less in sodium and protein, careful use of calcium supplements. Also, certain medicines can be prescribed to reduce the occurrence of certain types of stones.
Kidney stones can be gotten rid of, but with timely intervention and proper diagnosis and treatment.
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