All about kidney stones

When should I call the doctor?

Two drawings of a female body. In the first drawing is shaded the back of the pelvic region that is visible. In the second picture is shaded the lower back and hip that are visible. The shaded areas indicate where the pain can cause kidney stones.
A Pain in the shaded areas
can be caused by a kidney stone.
If you have a kidney stone, also called kidney stone, you probably already know how painful it can be. Most stones pass out of the body without having to consult a physician. But sometimes a stone will not be removed alone. You can even become larger. Your doctor can help.
You should call the doctor when
  • severe pain in the back or side that will not go away
  • blood in urine
  • fever and chills
  • vomiting
  • urine that smells bad or looks cloudy, not clear
  • a burning sensation when urinating
These may be signs of a kidney stone that required a doctor's care.

What do the kidneys?

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs. Everyone has more or less, the size of your fist. They are located near the middle of the back, just below the ribs, one on each side of the column. The kidneys are complex waste collectors. Each day, your kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 liters of excess water and waste. Excess water and waste becomes urine, which flows to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The bladder stores urine until you go to the bathroom.
Drawing of the urinary tract in an adult male. We focus on the kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra. An inset shows an enlarged making a kidney. It identifies the arteries that carry blood to the kidney waste, the vein that carries blood to the kidney clean, and the urethra, which carries waste and extra water into the bladder as urine.
Wastes removed from the blood pass into the bladder.
Waste found in the blood are normal wear and active muscle foods you eat. The body uses food for energy and to repair itself. Once the body has taken what it needs from food, wastes enter the blood. If the kidneys did not remove these wastes, they accumulate in the blood and would harm the body.
In addition to removing wastes, your kidneys help control blood pressure. They also help make red blood cells of the blood and bones to remain strong.

What is a kidney stone?

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in the kidney by substances in the urine.
A stone may stay in the kidney or break loose and travel down the urinary tract. A small stone may pass outside the body without causing too much pain.
A larger stone may get stuck in a ureter, bladder, or urethra. A problem stone can block the flow of urine and cause great pain.

Are all types of stones?

No. Doctors have found four main types of kidney stones.
  • The most common type of stone contains calcium. Calcium is a mineral that is part of a healthy diet.

    Calcium is not used for bones and muscles goes to the kidneys. In most people, the kidneys remove excess calcium with the rest of the urine. People who have calcium stones keep the calcium in the kidneys.

    Calcium is not removed joins with other waste products to form a stone. The most common combination is the calcium oxalate stones.
  • A struvite stone may form after an infection of the urinary system. These stones contain the mineral magnesium and the waste product, ammonia.
  • A uric acid stone may form when there is too much acid in the urine. If you have the tendency to form uric acid stones, you may have to reduce the amount of meat you eat.
  • Cystine stones are rare. Cystine is one of the basic components that make up muscles, nerves and other body parts. Cystine can build up in the urine to form a stone. The disease that causes cystine stone formation is inherited, which means "runs in the family."

What is the appearance of kidney stones?

Kidney stones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl. Even some stones can be the size of a golf ball. The stone surface can be smooth or jagged. They are usually yellow or brown.
Drawing of three types of stone in the kidney that are designated "brown stone, the size of a golf ball," "smooth pebble" and "yellow, jagged stone." The stone the size of a golf ball is spherical and bulky.The small, smooth stones are like small pieces of glass.The three yellow stones and peaks are more or less the shape of a football ball with sharp points.
Brown stone, the size of a golf ball Smooth pebble Yellow, jagged stone
The stones can be of different sizes and shapes. These illustrations are not the true size of a stone.

What can my doctor if I have a problem stone?

If you have a stone that can not eliminate from the body, your doctor may need to take remedial steps. In the past, the only way to remove a problem stone was through a medical operation.
Currently, doctors have new ways to remove problem stones. The following sections describe some of these methods.

Shock waves

Your doctor can use a machine to send shock waves directly on the kidney stone. The waves break a large stone into smaller stones that can pass through the urinary system with your urine. The technical name for this method is lithotripsy extracorporeal shock wave (also known by its initials in English as ESWL). Doctors often call it ESWL for short. Lithotripsy word comes from Greek and means grinding stone.
There are two types of machines that produce shock waves. In one of the machines, the patient sits in a tub or vat of water. In the majority of new machines, you lie on a stretcher. A health technician will use ultrasound or x-ray images to direct the shock waves at the stone.

Tunnel surgery

In this method, the doctor makes a small cut in the patient's back, forming a narrow tunnel through the skin to the stone inside the kidney. With a special instrument that fits inside the tunnel, the doctor can find the stone and remove it. The technical name for this method is percutaneous nephrolithotomy.

The ureteroscope

At A ureteroscope looks like a long wire. The doctor inserts it into the patient's urethra, passes it through the bladder and above, directs it to the ureter where the stone is located. The ureteroscope has a camera that can see where the stone. Through a small cage, catch the stone and pull it out of the body, or the doctor may remove the stone with a device inserted through the ureteroscope.

How will my doctor find out what kind of stone I have?

Drawing of an adult woman who is to use the toilet.
Try to catch a stone in a strainer.
The best way to determine the type of stone you have is that your doctor examine the stone itself. If you know you're passing a stone, try to catch it in a colander.
Chances are your doctor will ask for a sample of urine or blood test to find out what is causing the stones. You may need to collect your urine for 24 hours. These tests will help the doctor determine what you should do is not to re-form stones in the future.

Why do I need to know what kind of stone I have?

The therapy your doctor gives you depends on what type of stone you have. For example, a drug that prevents the formation of calcium stones will not work if you have a struvite stone. Dietary changes that help in preventing the formation of uric acid stones have no effect on calcium stones. Therefore, careful analysis of the stone will help guide treatment.

What I can do to avoid more stones?

Drink more water. Try to drink every day, 12 full glasses of water. Drink lots of water helps to flush away the substances that form kidney stones.
Woman drinking glass of water
Try to take all of 12 full glasses of water.
You can also make soft drinks like ginger ale, lemon-lime soft drinks and fruit juices. But water is best. Limit your coffee, tea and soft drinks 1 to 2 cups a day because the caffeine can do to remove the liquid too quickly.
Your doctor may tell you to eat more of certain foods and less of others. For example, if you have a uric acid stone, your doctor may ask you to eat less meat, because meat to digest in the body decomposes and produces uric acid.
If you are prone to forming calcium oxalate stones, you might need to limit foods that are high in oxalate content. These foods include rhubarb, beets, spinach and chocolate.
The doctor may prescribe medication to prevent or avoid the formation of calcium stones and uric acid.

Points to remember

  • Most stones pass out of the body without having to consult a physician.
  • Ask your doctor if you have severe pain in the back or side that will not go away.
  • Go to your doctor if you have blood in the urine, the urine will appear pink.
  • When you pass a stone, try to catch it in a strainer to show your doctor.
  • Drink lots of water to prevent or avoid more stones.
  • Talk to your doctor about ways to prevent more stones.


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