What Are The Signs of Kidney Stones: Urinary stones are among the most common diseases diagnosed in the world. Due to changes in eating habits, it can be assumed that ten percent of the population will be diagnosed with Kidney stones at least once.
Urinary stones recur in a quarter of patients. Small stones are flushed out of the body with the urine, unnoticed by the patient. From a certain size and texture, urinary stones tend to get stuck in the urinary tract or the bladder and cause discomfort along the way.
One way to counteract urinary stones is a balanced, healthy diet. Home remedies or homeopathy can help dissolve urinary stones or have a preventive effect. In some cases, however, drug therapy or even surgery is necessary to avoid permanent damage to the kidneys. Kidney stones – What are the signs of kidney stones and how do I get rid of them?
What Are Kidney Stones?
The majority of urinary stones are found in the kidneys and ureters. The size of the stones varies from less than a millimeter to several centimeters. The composition and frequency of the stones depend on eating habits, individual behavior, and climatic conditions.
There is an increasing frequency of calcium oxalate and uric acid stones in Europe and the USA. Various mineral substances contribute to stone formation.
The largest proportion of urinary stones is calcium oxalate stones, at around 70 percent. The frequency of uric acid stones is given in our latitudes with 15 percent. Magnesium-ammonium-phosphate stone and the comparatively rare cystine and xanthine stones are found less often.
Urinary stones are found in the entire urinary tract but mostly arise in the calyx system of the renal pelvis. Similar to a funnel, these have the task of collecting the urine from the kidney and delivering it to the ureter. Urinary stones that remain in the kidney calyx are called kidney stones.
If they migrate from there into the ureters, they are called ureteral stones. Kidney stones can also be found as bladder stones in the bladder. The medical name for the disease caused by kidney stones is nephrolithiasis.
How Does Renal Colic Occur?
Renal colic is the direct result of kidney stones. If a stone loosens, it is transported with the urine into the ureter. If a urinary stone becomes jammed due to its size or at one of the constrictions in the ureter, the urinary tract is suddenly blocked.
Hormonal mechanisms then lead to increased urine excretion, which increases the pressure on the wall of the ureters and in the renal pelvis. The surrounding muscles become tense and lead to cramp-like pain typical of renal colic.
What Are The Signs of Kidney Stones?
As long as the urinary stones remain in the kidneys, they usually do not cause any symptoms. Stones less than two millimeters in size are usually passed unnoticed by the patient in the urine.
Only a short, sharp pain can accompany the discharge of the urinary stones. Larger stones, on the other hand, can sometimes lead to considerable discomfort. Some stones are able to damage the inside of the urinary tract and the bladder due to their crystalline structure.
Depending on the intensity of the injuries, bleeding will vary in severity. Larger injuries are perceived by the patient as the urine turns red. Such a macrohematuria should be clarified by a doctor. Usually, however, there is an invisible admixture of blood in the urine (microhematuria).
If a stone gets stuck in the ureter, the further flow of urine is blocked. In this case, the urine builds up and leads to the symptoms typical of renal colic.
How is Renal Colic Noticeable?
- The main symptom is an attack of labor-like pain, which in its extreme effect is perceived as annihilation pain.
- The pain occurs suddenly and is characteristically undulating. The flank of the diseased kidney is essentially affected. Depending on the location of the stone, the pain can radiate to the back, thighs, or genital area. The colic can last from a few minutes to hours.
- The patients appear restless and restless and do not experience any real relief in any position. Fever and chills, burning sensation when urinating, and urinary retention are signs of an additional urinary tract infection. However, gross hematuria is only found in 25 percent of patients with renal colic.
In the laboratory, red blood cells indicate blood in the urine. The presence of white blood cells and high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are signs of an inflammatory reaction. Elevated creatinine and urea indicate possible kidney damage.
1. Wealth and Unhealthy Diet as Causes of Kidney Stones
The reason for the formation of urinary stones is an oversaturation of the urine with certain substances, which subsequently crystallize. High-calorie meals with a sedentary lifestyle are one of the main reasons in the western world.
These behaviors have made urinary stone disease a widespread disease. Hildegard von Bingen already observed the connection between a lavish diet, the consumption of wine, and the formation of urinary stones.
The consequences of unhealthy eating habits are reflected in obesity, gout, or diabetes. Risk factors for the development of urinary stones are also a disorder of kidney function, frequent urinary tract infections, or anatomical peculiarities of the kidneys and urinary tract.
An important aspect in the development of kidney stones is the lack of adequate fluid intake. The reasons for this can be varied. This does not only affect older patients. Stress at work or a lack of opportunity can sometimes simply make you forget about the regular intake of fluids.
Especially at high temperatures, the body loses a lot of water through profuse sweating. Chronic diseases such as diabetes insipidus or infectious diseases can also result in a lack of fluids
3. Medication Can Cause Kidney Stones
Medicines are also held responsible for stone formation. For the treatment of high blood pressure and some heart diseases, drugs that have a dehydrating effect (diuretics) are sometimes administered. In these cases, after consulting your doctor, you should ensure that you drink enough water.
Due to their effect on the intestinal flora, antibiotics can cause increased excretion of oxalates via the kidneys. High-dose vitamin C is also able to cause excessive excretion of oxalates. Under unfavorable circumstances, vitamin D can lead to an increased accumulation of calcium in the kidneys.
In addition, substances that influence the pH value of the urine have an effect that promotes stone formation.
Drugs whose ingredients themselves contribute to the formation of urinary stones, so-called drug stones, make up at least one percent of all kidney stones. These include drugs that are used to treat HIV. Kidney stones have also been described with the abusive and excessive ingestion of ephedrine
4. Bed Rest Promotes Kidney Stones
The connection between increased bone remodeling and an increase in the calcium level in the urine is striking. Since calcium is a component of calcium oxalate stones, processes that involve bone remodeling have a higher probability of kidney stones. Long periods of bed rest, in particular, could cause such a process.
The situation is different with osteoporosis, which is also associated with bone remodeling. Here, the additional administration of high doses of calcium supplements could increase the risk of kidney stones.
5. When Urine Flow is Obstructed
If an unimpeded outflow of urine is not guaranteed, this often leads to the formation of urinary stones. The narrowing of the ureter at the transition from the renal pelvis to the ureter (sub pelvic stenosis) is important. Prostate adenomas (benign growths) or bladder emptying disorders of nervous origin also come into consideration.
6. Acid Urine Leads To Kidney Stones
Renal tubular acidosis is present in around five percent of all patients with urinary stones. In this disease, the function of the kidneys, which are supposed to remove acids from the blood, is disturbed. Medicines for the treatment of high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers), anti-fungal agents (amphotericin B), and dehydrating substances (diuretics) usually only impair this kidney function temporarily.
The same applies to diabetes mellitus or the autoimmune disease Lupus erythematosus too. Renal tubular acidosis can occur in children for family reasons.
7. What Types of Urinary Stones are There?
Calcium oxalate is the main component of kidney stones in 70 percent of all adults. A cause for the development cannot be determined in two-thirds of the patients. In a few cases, there is renal tubular acidosis or a disorder of the parathyroid glands (hyperparathyroidism).
Calcium oxalate stones are increasingly found in affluent societies. The consumption of a lot of table salt, the excess of protein-rich food, stress, and the use of antibiotics are responsible for the development
About half of all urinary stones contain calcium phosphate. Especially alkaline urine (pH> 6.8) in connection with high calcium and phosphate concentrations is responsible for the development. Renal tubular acidosis or a urinary tract infection are considered to be the cause.
Infection stones, on the other hand, are to be distinguished from calcium phosphate stones. Certain bacteria can form so-called struvite stones as part of a urinary tract infection. Women are 3 to 5 times more likely to have this type of stone.
Uric acid stones are also often diagnosed. The regional accumulation in Germany is due, among other things, to excessive meat consumption. These stones are caused by the metabolic end product uric acid.
8. Can Kidney Stones / Renal Colic Develop in a Hereditary Manner?
Although the majority of kidney stones are diet-related, such a condition can also be hereditary. Among the genetic kidney stone diseases, children are the main group of patients. In order to be able to determine the familial predisposition with certainty, a corresponding genetic analysis is required.
The composition of the stones is also important. In particular, an excessively high concentration of calcium in the urine can have genetic causes. Additional factors, such as stress or too high a concentration of vitamin D or vitamin A in the blood, can trigger the development of stones.
These trigger factors also include hereditary diseases, such as various thyroid diseases (hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome) or renal tubular acidosis.
8. How Are Urinary Stones Treated?
Thanks to improved diagnostics, urinary stones are often detected earlier today. Ultrasound devices can be found in almost all modern general practitioners’ practices.
In addition, computed tomography provides the doctor with a detailed picture of the location and size of the stones. Although the majority of stones can be treated with a minimally invasive procedure, stones in the kidneys develop again in around half of all patients.
Drug treatment and the observance of appropriate diet measures are therefore of great importance in the treatment of kidney stones.
9. Drug Treatment of Renal Colic
Stones jammed in the ureters lead to severe pain. Rapid and effective pain relief is, therefore, part of acute therapy. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or metamizole are considered the first choice. Previous diseases of the kidneys, the heart, coagulation disorders, or allergic reactions to a drug can justify the use of morphine.
At the same time, there is the possibility of administering anti-vomiting and nausea medication. The administration of alpha-1 receptor blockers is often recommended to reduce the muscle tension in the ureters
In addition to treating pain, drug therapy also serves to expel stones (MET = medical expulsive therapy). For this reason, the medication must be pursued even if freedom from pain is achieved. If the stone cannot be removed in this way, surgery cannot be avoided.
How are Kidney Stones Removed?
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, ureterorenoscopy, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy are available for the removal of kidney stones. The selection is based on the size and, above all, the location of the stones in the kidney.
1. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
Shock wave therapy is based on the generation of acoustic pressure waves emanating from a device outside the body. Modern shock wave devices (lithotriptors) are similar in appearance to an X-ray machine, with the patient lying on a movable table.
General anesthesia can be dispensed with, usually, only a light sedative is administered. Despite the fact that treatment is simple and with few complications for the patient, there are limits to the ESWL.
Particularly hard stones, such as brushite or cystine stones, as well as an unfavorable location, for example, lower goblets, limit the use of lithotriptors. Shock wave therapy can result in a large number of tiny stone fragments. If they do not come off, these can form the basis for the formation of new stones.
Depending on the location, 14 to 94 percent freedom from stones can be expected. Analogous to this, a corresponding re-treatment rate must be assumed. The ESWL cannot be performed in the case of an existing pregnancy, coagulation disorders, or simultaneous urinary tract infections.
The term stands for the use of semi-rigid or flexible endoscopes. Any place in the urinary tract can be reached with flexible hoses. The endoscope is equipped with a miniature camera, tiny surgical instruments, and a laser probe. This technique can also be used to reach and remove stones in the kidney.
Small stones are caught in a stone basket, larger stones can be crushed and transported away in advance. Ureterorenoscopy is used in particular for kidney calculi up to two centimeters in size.
It is also used if stone fragments have remained in the kidney or urinary tract during the course of an ESWL. An acute urinary tract infection is an absolute exclusion criterion for ureterorenoscopy.
3. Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
In previous years, large kidney stones had to be removed using the open surgical technique. The so-called percutaneous nephrolithotomy has largely replaced the surgery of medium to large stones. From a stone size of one and a half to two centimeters, this method is successfully preferred to the ESWL.
During the entire duration of the treatment, the sensation of pain is switched off by general anesthesia. The kidney is punctured through the skin (percutaneously) with a puncture needle and the area in question is widened (bougienage).
The stone is removed using special collecting baskets. The results with regard to the absence of stones and the need for repeated intervention are comparable with the other techniques. Complications are usually rarely observed and are usually easy to control.
4. Can Kidney Stones Be Treated By Yourself?
Kidney stones are often caused by the concentration of certain substances. They are filtered out of the blood in the kidneys and mostly crystallize there in the calyx system. If kidney stones cause pain, this should always be clarified by a doctor. Most of the mostly small stones come off by themselves.
5. We often Drink Too Little
Humans constantly lose fluids through breathing, through the skin, and the kidneys. If there is a lack of water, this is registered by the brain and leads to a feeling of thirst. Surveys confirm that many people don’t drink enough. Sufficient water intake can not only have a preventive effect but is also recommended as a therapeutic measure for known kidney stones.
The point of reference for an adult is the consumption of at least two liters of water. Water is able to bring the crystallized substances back into solution or to reduce them to such an extent that they can come off by themselves.
It has also proven helpful to alkalize the urine in order to achieve a pH value between 6 and 7. This can be guaranteed by choosing urine-neutral beverages. It is important that the composition of the stone is known. Calcium oxalate and uric acid stones can be treated with medicinal water rich in bicarbonate.
This can prevent the formation and bring existing stones back into the solution. Although this sounds paradoxical, acidic beverages made from citrus fruits or apple juice can also increase the pH value (alkalize) and reduce the risk of stone formation. Wine, beer, and caffeine, on the other hand, should be avoided.
6. Change Eating Habits
Half of the patients with a kidney stone can expect new stones to form within four years. In any case, questioning your eating habits can be beneficial for your own health. Kidney stones can consist of different substances and individually depict the foods that lead to the symptoms.
The most common stones are made up of calcium and oxalate. In this case, you should switch to a low-oxalate diet. Green and black tea, peppermint, rhubarb, and spinach are particularly rich in oxalic acid. Beetroot and Swiss chard should also be avoided.
The amount of food consumed and its oxalic acid concentration are important. Chocolate, for example, contains only a fraction of the concentration of rhubarb.
However, those who like to reach for a bar of chocolate should be cautious about kidney stones. The oxalic acid content can also be reduced by cooking and pre-soaking vegetables containing oxalic acid.
The simultaneous administration of milk also seems to have a positive effect. Frequent consumption of animal protein increases the risk of kidney stones. It doesn’t matter what kind of meat or fish is consumed.
7. Use Herbal Remedies Ro Derive Kidney Stones
In addition to the supply of sufficient quantities of fluids, there are a large number of home remedies that are supposed to help against kidney stones. Some plants have both a pain-relieving property and a flushing effect.
The latter is particularly attributed to the birch, juniper, or horsetail. Both in capsule form and as for tea, the real goldenrod is said to have both a diuretic and a weak antispasmodic effect.
8. Micronutrients Against Stone Disease
Vitamins and trace elements are able to regulate the formation of kidney stones. Magnesium plays an important role in this. An additional amount of magnesium ingested with food is able to bind oxalate and can promote the solubility of calcium oxalate stones. A similar statement applies to the intake of calcium.
This forms an insoluble complex with oxalate in the intestine and does not reach the kidneys via the blood. Vitamin B6 and Omega3 fatty acids also seem to have a beneficial effect on the development of kidney stones.
9. Exercise is Important
Exercise can help with small kidney stones or gravel so that they get through the urinary drainage pathways more quickly. Hopping and climbing stairs in particular are suitable for accelerating the removal of the stones.
Those who already suffer from colic-like pain should, however, do without it. Here, putting on a hot water bottle can help alleviate the symptoms. Light sporting activity within the scope of personal abilities also counteracts the formation and growth of the stones.
No therapy without medical advice
Kidney stones, especially if they are accompanied by pain, should always be treated by a doctor. The use of herbal supplements or home remedies, as well as a change in diet, should also be discussed with the doctor.