Kidney stones can be extremely painful and unless treated at the right time in the right way it can be damaging for the system as well. Kidney stones are usually formed of the compound calcium oxalate as a result of accumulation of minerals in the kidney. The function of the kidney is to sieve out wastes from the blood to excrete them as urine. In case of kidney stone, the dissolved minerals in urine stick together to form a bigger stone that cannot pass easily through the urinary tract and causes a blockage.
Usually the formation of kidney stones is completely painless and the patient realizes the problem only when it causes blockage or passes through the urinary tract with urine. Passing of a kidney stone can be extremely painful depending on the size of the stone which can vary from the size of a sugar cube to the size of a golf ball. Before we get into treating the kidney stones it is important to first take a look at the causes of the kidney stone formation.
Causes of formation of kidney stones
Being aware about the causes can be helpful to prevent kidney stone formation at the first place. Some of the common causes of kidney stones include the following,
Drinking less water
The leading cause of kidney stone formation is drinking less water. Studies have shown that people who drink less than the recommended amount of water daily are most likely to get kidney stones. Uric acid is a component of urine which results into the drop of the pH within the kidney making the environment overtly acidic, which is highly conductive of stone formation. Normally, the concentration of uric acid within the kidney is diluted with water and hence the pH within the kidney is maintained more towards a balanced state.
On the other hand, when there is less water, the concentration of uric acid within the kidney is much high, which disrupts the natural pH balance and promotes formation of kidney stones due to accumulation of the dissolved minerals.
There is a whole range of medical conditions that increases the risk of kidney stone formation. Some of these include Crohn’s disease, renal tubular acidosis, urinary tract infection, Dent’s disease and hyperparathyroidism. So, if you have any of these conditions, you have a much greater chance of kidney stone formation and hence it is really important that you take the proper precautions and stay within medical guidance to reduce the risk of kidney stone formation.
Conditions that affect the normal calcium absorption ability of the body, like gastric problems, chronic diarrhea and inflammatory bowel diseases can also be a cause of kidney stone formation.
Fluorine is a toxic element and water fluoridation has been marked as one of the causes that increase the risk of kidney stone formation. On the other hand, toothpastes also work as a source of fluorine to the body. So, if you have a history of kidney stone formation, make sure that you are not drinking fluorinated water and the level of fluorine in your toothpaste is within the permissible range.
Calcium and vitamin D supplement
Calcium and Vitamin D are vital for the body. They strengthen the bones and are often suggested for consumption over a long span of time. However, excessive consumption of Calcium or Vitamin D supplements has been found as a leading cause of kidney stone formation. These supplements increases the amount of calcium in the blood and in the urine increasing the chance of formation of more calcium oxalate in the body which is the most common compound to form the kidney stones. Hence, if you are taking calcium or vitamin D supplements over a long period of time, make sure that you are taking it in the right dosage just as suggested by your doctor.
Genetics is often one of the primary propelling factors behind kidney stone formation. If you have it in your family, make sure that you drink sufficient water and follow the right precautions to reduce your risk of kidney stone formation. Also stay in regular touch with your doctor so that action can be taken at the earliest.
Symptoms of kidney stones
Back pain on the sides
Kidney stones cause excruciating pain in the back. Some have equated this pain to getting shot or giving birth to a child. Based on the statistics more than 1 million people get admitted into emergency rooms every year because of this problem. The pain initially stars at a spot on the back and gradually spreads around the area. This is caused when the stone gets stuck in the narrow ureter. The blockage results in the buildup of pressure in the kidney which activates the nerve cells that trigger pain signals. As the stone moves due to the passage of urine, the intensity and location of the pain changes. Pain from the kidney stones is associated with waves that start at a place and expand. The intensity of the pain gets high when the ureters contract to expel the stone out. Every wave of pain can last for a few minutes. It goes and comes back leaving a person crippled and in need of medical help. For most people, the pain starts below the ribs on the back. It will eventually spread across the groin and belly area as the stone moves out of urinary tract. Also, depending on the size of stones, it can be less or more painful. Obviously, bigger stones are more painful than the smaller ones.
Frequent sensation to urinate is one of the signs of stone moving into the urinary tract. You might tend to go to the bathroom constantly day and night and many times find out there is little or nothing to urinate.
Passing blood in the urine
Stones in the urinary tract can burst blood vessels as they move along. This symptom or condition is known as hematuria. In severe cases, the person will see reddish or brownish urine but commonly the blood cells are very tiny and should be examined by a doctor under amicroscope to derive aconclusion.
Smelly and cloudy urine
Healthy urine has a very light pungent smell and looks clear. Cloudy looking and strong foul smelling urine can be a sign of infection in the urinary tract or kidneys. Based on the research it is found that about 8 percent of people have a urinary tract infection are likely to get kidney stones. The cloudy appearance of the urine is caused due to the passing of pus in the urine and the bad odor is from the bacteria that feed on it.
Interruptions in flow of urine
The stones blocking the ureter can slow and stop the urine flow. If there is a total stop in the urine flow, it’s a medical emergency.
Feeling of nausea and vomiting
The kidney stones can trigger nerve connections between GI tract and kidneys which can upset the stomach with intense pain and cause vomiting.
Fever and chills
Infection in the kidney or the urinary tract incites fever and chills. Fever can be accompanied with pain which is one of the defining symptoms of having kidney stones. The temperature in the body can spike to 38˚C (100.4˚F) or more
Some other risk factors of kidney stones
The following increases the chance of formation of stones in the kidney. However, if you have one or more of them that does not necessarily mean that you will have kidney stones, but they certainly increases the risk.
- Obesity is considered as one of the most prominent risk factors for kidney stone formation
- Consuming a diet that is high in protein and sodium but low in calcium is considered to increase the risk of kidney stone formation
- Sedentary lifestyle has also been linked to increased rick of kidney stone formation
- High blood pressure also increases the risk of kidney stones
Treating kidney stones
Depending on the size of the stone formed within the kidney it might pass on its own or might need medical attention. If the patient has not passed a stone before, it is important that he/she is provided with proper medical care at the right time as it can be really painful. If the stone is small in size, medications are often prescribed to dissolve it on its own. In case of bigger kidney stones, depending on the place of the stone within the kidney, doctors may also opt for lithotripsy, which breaks the bigger stone into small parts that can be then passed with urine through medication.
Kidney stones can be prevented and treated with some home treatments as well. In case of treating kidney stone with home treatments it is important to have medical help at hand in case of emergency. These treatments are believed to dissolve the stones quickly and can even be helpful for quick healing and pain management related to kidney stones,
Lemon juice and olive oil for treating kidney stones
A mixture of lemon juice and olive oil is believed to be effective in expelling the kidney stones. This treatment is considered to be most effective in case of calcium based kidney stones. Mix four tablespoons of lemon juice with four tablespoons of olive oil and drink the mixture 2-3 times a day. You should take this treatment at least for 3 days to expel the stone.
Apple cider vinegar and honey for kidney stones
Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey is considered as another effective home treatment for removing kidney stones. This treatment dissolves the stone and makes it much easier to expel it. Take one cup of warm water. Add two tablespoons of ACV and one teaspoon honey to it. Drink this mixture 2-3 times in a day for up to 2-3 days for dissolving and passing the stone.
Pomegranate for treating kidney stone
Pomegranate can be effective for dissolving the kidney stones. If you have a history of kidney stones it is best to indulge daily on a big pomegranate to reduce the risk of kidney stone formation. It also helps in expelling the stone quickly.
Basil leaves and honey for kidney stone treatment
If you have kidney stones or a history of it taking a mixture of basil leaves mixed with honey can be an effective natural way to treat it. Collect 6-7 fresh basil leaves, smash them, add 1/2 spoon of honey and take it. You should continue taking this remedy for at least 5-6 months for the stone to dissolve and become smaller so that it can pass through urine.
Nettle leaf tea for kidney stone
Nettle is a herb with a number of medicinal benefits. The leaves of this herb helps in maintaining proper flow of water in the body and can be helpful to prevent the formation of kidney stones and also to dissolve the stones quickly. Prepare nettle leaf tea by steeping 2 spoons of the dried leaf in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes and then drink it. You need to drink 2-3 cups of this tea every day for few months to get results.
Orange juice for preventing kidney stone recurrence
Studies have found that drinking a glass of fresh orange juice everyday can be an effective way to prevent the recurrence of kidney stones. It can be a very good remedy for people with a history of kidney stones.