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Kidney stones detection and prevention

kidney
The process of kidney stone formation starts in the kidneys, and the formation itself is typically painless. It is when the kidney stones are passed that an individual experiences pain. (Photos: Shutterstock, and Unsplash)
Kidney stones are known to be extremely painful, even among those who have never had one. They are also quite common. Some estimates suggest that one in ten people will suffer from a kidney stone at some point in their life. For Jordan, estimates vary, but one study suggests that the prevalence of kidney stones is 5.95 percent. The majority of cases occur among males over the age of 40.اضافة اعلان

The development of kidney stones is linked to other health conditions. With a recent increase in such related conditions, the prevalence of kidney stones has risen. However, with proper care, individuals can reduce their risk of developing the painful crystals.

The four stages of kidney stones
The fluids in our bodies contain many chemicals, which are regulated by various physical mechanisms, particularly the kidneys, which help filter out many water-soluble waste products from our bodily fluids. The final product of this process is urine.

However, in some cases, there is too much waste in too little fluid, and the chemical waste is no longer able to stay dissolved. As a result, crystals begin to form, and their presence attract the formation of more. These crystal clusters are known as kidney stones, or more formally, renal calculi.

The process of kidney stone formation starts in the kidneys, and the formation itself is typically painless. It is when the kidney stones are passed that an individual experiences pain. The stages of passing the stones are relatively predictable.



The first stage takes place when the stone detaches from the inner wall of the kidney. This is often considered the most painful stage, due to spasms of the kidney. These spasms are the kidney’s way of trying to remove the stone, and they can occur one to four times per hour. People experiencing kidney spasms feel a severe pain in the lower back or sides, which many women who have given birth naturally have reported to be more painful than childbirth.

By the second stage, most of the severe pain will have subsided. However, this stage is still incredibly painful. As the stones leave the kidneys, they travel down a tube known as the ureter. The diameter of this tube is only 2-3mm, and the walls are fairly rigid. Any stone that is larger than the diameter will cause pain. Whereas the pain in the first stage was intense in nature, the pain in the second stage can be described as radiating and throbbing. Additionally, people passing a kidney stone may feel a pressure buildup if the stone becomes stuck.

Once the stone has entered the bladder, the individual will have entered the third stage. This stage is not painful, but there will be a sensation of pressure. In an attempt to remove the stone from the body, you will feel the urge to urinate frequently. However, urination may be complicated since the stone can become stuck and block urine output. If this happens, you will need to wait five to 10 minutes before trying again. Finally, the fourth stage is the passing of the stone through the urethra. Although there may be little to no pain at this point, this process will require effort. You will have to squeeze and push hard until the stone passes and is expelled with the urine. The duration of the entire process from start to finish depends on the size of the stone and if there are any complications. Assuming there are no complications, a stone smaller than 4mm can pass in a week or two, whereas larger stones may take up to four to six weeks.

Types of kidney stones
There are four main types of kidney stones, each with different causes. The first and most common type is calcium stones. Of the varieties of calcium stones, calcium oxalate is the most common, but others include calcium phosphate or maleate. To reduce the risk of these particular stones, keep your calcium intake consistent and limit foods containing oxalate such as chips, peanuts, chocolate, and spinach.

The second most common type of kidney stone is uric acid stones. This type most commonly occurs among people with gout, a condition in which uric acid levels are high in the body. Other conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and other types of metabolic syndrome can increase the risk of uric acid stones. One study found that 68.1 percent of Jordanians with kidney stones were either overweight or obese. If you are already at risk of higher uric acid levels, it is best to limit foods that contain purines. Purine is the precursor to uric acid and can be found in foods such as animal meat and fish.



The final two types of kidney stones are far less common. Struvite kidney stones are mostly found among individuals with urinary tract infections. They can be large and block the flow of urine. Treating the underlying infection can help prevent the formation of these stones. Finally, cystine kidney stones are estimated to occur in one out of every 7,000 people worldwide. This is typically the result of a genetic condition known as cystinuria.

Signs you might have kidney stones

The severe pain brought on by spasms is the first and most noticeable sign of a kidney stone. The pain can occur in the lower back, sides, or abdomen, and for men, it may radiate to the groin area.

Other common symptoms of kidney stones include blood in the urine (visible through red, pink, or brown urine), a frequent need to urinate, and urinating only in small quantities. Kidney stones may also cause foul-smelling urine, also indicative of a UTI. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. The symptoms are largely based on the size of the stone. Some stones are as small as a grain of sand and others can be the size of a pebble. Generally, the larger the stone, the greater the symptoms.

In some cases, symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter medications. If this is the case and there are no signs of infection or severe symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, then you may not need treatment. However, if you experience bloody urine, pain or burning while urinating, difficulty urinating, severe pain, or cloudy or foul-smelling urine, you should seek medical attention.

Stay hydrated
Hydration is the greatest preventative measure against kidney stones. There is no set quantity for daily fluid intake, however, it is recommended that you drink enough to pass approximately 2.5 liters of urine per day. This will help flush out the chemicals in urine that form stones. Additionally, moderating and reducing your intake of oxalate-rich foods can also reduce the risk.

For those who are already at a higher risk (those who have gout, are obese, and/or have diabetes), consider speaking to your doctor about general diet restrictions. Limiting foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, as well as animal proteins such as beef, poultry, and seafood can help reduce the risk of kidney stones. Additionally, foods such as processed meats, fast food, frozen meals, and salty snacks should be generally avoided.


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