kidney_stone.jpgexternal image kidney_stone_s1_crystal.jpgKidney Stones

What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are hard masses of crystals which separate from the urine in the urinary tract (urethra,uretres, kidneys, bladder).They contain calcium in combination with oxalate or phosphate. these chemicals help make up important parts of the body such as muscles and bones and are part of our daily diet.

Normally, urine contains a chemical which prevents kidney stones from forming. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to everyone. Kidney stones build up inside your kidneys and causes many health defects when they travel down the ureter and get stuck, stopping your urine from flowing and causing kidney damage and failure. However, sometimes if the crystals are small enough, kidney stones are small enough to pass through the urinary tract and out of your body. Dehydration during strenuous exercise increases the risk of having kidney stones. This is also risky for people living in hot climate areas because they get dehydrated more easily.

Calcium build up in the kidney leads to kidney stones
A kidney stone being pushed out of the kidney by muscle walls

What are the symptoms?

People normally do not have kidney stones until they are 40 years old for men and 50 years old for women or when they have already had kidney stones. However excess consummation of foods that contain oxalate (which forms kidney stones) can cause kidney stones at an early age. For example, rhubarb, spinach, beetroot, soybean crackers, peanuts, sweet potatoes and unfortunately, chocolate. Kidney stones are common in Asians and Caucasians than Native Americans, Africans and African Americans. There has been some evidence of kidney stone formation in pregnant women but it rarely happens.

There are usually no symptoms for kidney stones until the stone travels down the urinary tract and blocks the flow of urine, causing extreme pain. Typically, people feel a sharp pain in their back or kidney area, vomiting and nausea may occur. Pain may spread to the groin area later on. If the stones is large enough, the narrow walls of the ureter try to squeeze the stones into the bladder, blood may appear in the urine (making the urine pink). After this, a person may need to urinate more than often and feel a burning sensation when they do. It is said that kidney stones are as painful as pregnancy. To know whether you have an infection from kidney stones, fevers and chills may occur.

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How do you treat kidney stones?
1. Look for the symptoms. Acute pain is usually the first symptom that a person experiences when the stone blocks the urine flow. The pain can be experienced in the back and side, in the area of the kidneys. Nausea and vomiting may also be present.

2. Call your doctor. They will run a series of lab tests to determine that the cause of the pain is from kidney stones. A blood and urine test may be done, as well as a CT scan of the urinary system.

3. Drink plenty of water. After a diagnosis is reached, your doctor will most likely request that you begin drinking large quantities of water, at least two litres.
4. Use a strainer when you urinate. This strainer provided by your doctor allows you to catch the stone so that you can return it to her office for lab analysis.
5. Take the prescribed pain medication as needed. As you pass the stone, you will experience pain often described as excruciating. Most doctors prescribe a strong pain reliever to help you deal with the discomfort.
6. Follow prevention methods. Your doctor may tell you to avoid dairy products in order to stop calcium build ups. Your doctor may also advise you to avoid foods with added vitamin D and to drink plenty of water.

Another way to treat kidney stones: Simple stones are broken by shockwaves and they pass through the ureter in urine

Kidney stones stuck in the kidney.
Kidney stones stuck in the kidney.

A badly infected kidney with kidney stones

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http://www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/stonesadults/index.htm (Accessed 27th June 2011).
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http://www.medicinenet.com/kidney_stone/article.htm (accessed 27th June 2011).
Ehow, last updated 24th February, How to treat Kidney Stones,
http://www.ehow.com/how_2057294_treat-kidney-stones.html, (accessed 28th June 2011).
Youtube (cfooddinner), uploaded 10th June 2006, Kidney Stone,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YevE6rYV2MA&feature=related, (accessed 28th June 2011).
Youtube (BrianGolde), uploaded 19th January 2011, Kidney Stone Removal - Laparoscopic Pyelolithotomy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je6SPs8KSao, (accessed 28th June 2011).

By An Tran :)