Kidney Stone Treatment And Prevention

Information on kidney stones, symptoms, prevention, treatment, and risks.

Anyone who has suffered with kidney stones knows how painful they can be. The online article entitled "What are Kidney Stones?", provided by MSN Health and published in 1998 by Nidus Information Services Incorporated, gives the following information on the urinary tract and kidneys. The correct balance of salt and water in the body is maintained by the urinary system. This system includes the kidneys, which are located beneath the rib cage and towards the middle of the back. The kidneys are comprised of more than a million nephrons. These small individual units each have tiny blood vessels which are surrounded by a bowl-shaped formation known as a Bowman's capsule. From here, smaller tubes connect to large collecting tubes which lead to the center of the kidney. Each blood vessel filters out waste material, salt, and excess water from the blood. These wastes pass from the small tubes to collecting tubes. From there the waste flows through ureters, which are narrow tubes, and on to the bladder. The bladder stores this waste until the body eliminates it.

According to "The American Medical Association Family Guide", published in 1982 by Random House, a kidney stone begins in the center of the kidney as a tiny particle. As other waste particles cling to the initial particle, a stone forms. These stones can be as large as an inch in diameter.

The article,"What are Kidney Stones?" describes the types of stones that can form and their composition. Most kidney stones are comprised of oxalic acid and calcium. These stones can be identified on x-rays by their octagonal shape. Many grains, vegetables, and fruits contain oxalic acid.

Between 9% and 17% of kidney stones are comprised of magnesium ammonium phosphate, also known as struvite. These stones often accompany urinary tract infections. Strurvite stones are rectangular in shape with rounded corners. They can grow to be very large, and if they are left untreated they can damage the kidney.

Ten percent of kidney stones are made of a nitrogen mixture, also known as uric acid. X-rays do not reveal these diamond or pear-shaped kidney stones. A high acid content in urine, which often causes these stones, may be brought on by conditions such as chronic diarrhea, dehydration, and gout.

Approximately 2% of kidney stones are made up entirely of brushite, otherwise known as calcium phosphate. These stones are usually irregularly shaped. Brushite stones usually form because of an imbalance in integral parts contained in the urine. These components either encourage or inhibit stones from forming.

Two types of stones are very uncommon. Cystine stones, which are visible on an x-ray, make up only 1% of kidney stones. Even less likely are stones made up of a nitrogen compound known as xanthine. These stones cannot be viewed by x-ray.

According to "The American Medical Association Family Guide", small stones are usually excreted from the body, but stones larger than 1/5 of an inch are likely to stay within the kidney. In many cases there are no symptoms or pain when kidney stones are present. Larger stones can however can cause a considerable amount of pain if they move to the bladder.

"The American Medical Association Family Guide" provides the following information on symptoms that may indicate the presence of kidney stones. It says the most likely symptom is called colic. The pain of colic comes in intervals and is described as a stabbing sensation. This stabbing pain stops when either the stone has passed or it stops moving. Usually the pain occurs on one side of the body. If stones are present in both kidneys, pain can occur on either side. The article, "What are Kidney Stones?" adds that bleeding may be present with large or traveling stones. Nausea accompanied by vomiting may also occur. The same article says a person with kidney stones may need to urinate more frequently, and they may experience burning pain.

There may be several contributing factors in the formation of kidney stones. "The PDR Family Guide Encyclopedia of Medical Care", published in 1997 by Three Rivers Press, says kidney stones may be caused by an excess of calcium or vitamins in the diet, urine blockage, or gout. "The American Medical Association Family Guide", adds that males are more susceptible to having kidney stones than females. Those who are over the age of thirty are also more likely to have kidney stones. The same books says children with a rare blood abnormality may develop kidney stones.

The article entitled "Avoiding Kidney Stones", written by James Dillard and published in 2001 by WebMD Corporation, provides the following advice on how to deal with kidney stones. It says first of all, a kidney specialist or internist should be consulted. Urine and blood tests can help determine the cause of the stones. It is recommended that people who suffer from kidney stones drink twice the amount of water they usually drink. However, people with congestive heart failure or other heart related problems should consult their doctor first.

To aid in the prevention of kidney stones consider the following information. Consuming too much protein can damage the kidneys. The recommended amount of daily protein is two grams for every four pounds of body weight. Also, a diet low in sodium and sugar and abundant in potassium, magnesium, and vegetables, is recommended.

The risks associated with kidney stones, according to "The PDR Family Guide Encyclopedia of Medical Care", are as follows. It says stones left untreated can cause chronic kidney problems, and in rare instances they can cause death. Prompt medical care should be sought if urinating is frequent or uncomfortable, a fever is present, there is nausea or vomiting, or if pain is severe. Be sure to consult a physician for recommended options and treatments.

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