Clusters of hard deposits of salts and minerals that form inside our kidneys are called kidney stones. These stones often form when the urine cannot dilute the minerals and becomes concentrated. Due to this concentration, the minerals and salts stick together, instead of diluting and form clusters, which are then called kidney stones (nephrolithiasis). They may affect any part of the urinary system, from kidneys to the bladder.
What are The First Signs of Kidney Stones?
If the kidney stone stays in the kidney, it generally does not show any apparent signs and symptoms. But, when it moves in the kidney to the ureter and beyond, the most apparent and first sign is the severe pain. This pain may be in the sides or in the groin. It may also start in the back and radiate towards sides and then front. Also, this pain can be intermittent at times, meaning that it comes and goes in bouts, as the kidney stone moves further down in the urinary tract. There might be traces of blood in the urine, as the stone irritates the lining of the ureter when it passes through it, thereby causing bruises and hence the blood. Due to such severe degree of pain, there may be a feeling of nausea and at times vomiting.
There may be a reduction in the quantity of urine excreted, due to the blockage in the ureter, and due to the fluid quantity being reduced because of crystallization.
There may be frequent urge to urinate, incomplete urination and burning sensation while urinating. If this is also accompanied by an infection, then there might be high fever with chills. If the stones remain in the body for a long time, they tend to increase in size due to crystallization continuously happening around them. And if such kidney stones are dislodged from the kidney and they move into the ureter, they may cause a serious blockage in the ureters and ultimately severe pain in the lower abdomen.
Some kidney stones may pass in the urine on their own, especially if they are smaller in size. Just pepping up the water intake may help tackle this. But some other kidney stones may just not dissolve or pass and need a surgery or some treatment to remove, dissolve or break them into smaller pieces. Medical help should be sought immediately to avoid any complications.
Causes of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can be caused due to a number of reasons. Though these can not be called as fixed causes, they act more like risk factors. These may increase your chances of getting a kidney stone. When the urine is saturated with certain substances that easily crystallize together; such as calcium, uric acid, etc.; this results in the formation of clumps of these substances, gradually resulting in stones. This happens because the urine becomes saturated more with these substances and the fluid part of the urine becomes less. Also, there are certain substances in the urine which prevent this from happening. If the urine lacks in those substances, then this creates a favorable environment for the crystals to form.
Lack of water in the body is one of the major causes of kidney stones. Naturally, when the fluid content goes down, the urine will become concentrated. This creates an acidic high in the urine which results in formation of stones. Males in the age group of 30 to 55 years are more likely to suffer from kidney stones. The previous occurrence of a stone can also be a risk factor for developing more kidney stones, despite the removal. Some medicines are also known to increase the risk of getting kidney stones.
Similarly, certain medical conditions like Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infection, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. also increase the risk of kidney stones. Kidney stones are also seen more in those who use long term calcium supplements and who eat a diet more in protein and sodium.
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Kidney Stones. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-stones/symptoms-causes/syc-20355755
- National Kidney Foundation. (2021). Kidney Stones. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneystones
- MedlinePlus. (2021). Kidney Stones. https://medlineplus.gov/kidneystones.html
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