Kidney Stones – What is the Cause?
Kidney stones are very common in both men and women, and about fifty per cent of patients who suffer one are diagnosed with kidney stones again in the next 10 to fifteen years without proper treatment, reports a recent study by a leading medical research institute.
This study was published in the May issue of the Journal of Urology. A kidney stone sufferer can get two or more kidney stones in their lifetime, according to Dr Charles Hennekam, the lead author of the study and a nephrologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
The study found that most patients diagnosed with kidney stones in the United States, about 90 per cent, have repeated attacks in at least six months. About half of these patients suffer from recurrent kidney stone episodes within the next 10 years without proper prevention, said Dr Hennekam.
More than nine out of ten kidney stone sufferers experience pain in the back, right side, or right side of the abdomen, but don’t always experience pain during urination. The majority of stones can be passed from one person to another without causing serious complications.
But if the stones don’t pass, they can cause
- Kidney infection
- Inflammation of the kidney, or
- Even blockage of the urinary tract
When a kidney is damaged by stones, it cannot properly remove waste from the blood. The kidney produces urine to flush out the toxins in the blood. If the kidney doesn’t function correctly, it may not be able to process and eliminate waste efficiently.
Eventually, the kidneys are no longer able to do this and toxins will accumulate, and block the urine passages. As kidney damage progresses, stones may form. A kidney infection may also occur if the stones remain in the urinary tract for long periods of time and aren’t treated.
In severe cases, patients may even require surgery to remove the kidney. Kidney stones are sometimes confused with kidney infections. Many people, especially those who had a family history of kidney problems, mistake kidney stones for urinary tract infections.
Kidney infections can cause
- Diarrhoea, and
- Blood in the urine
They usually occur only in the bladder but can also be present in other parts of the urinary tract, including the urethra. Kidney stones, however, are different from kidney infections. They are caused by crystals that are solid and usually formed in the kidney. They can sometimes appear as small beads or lumps, but not as large stones.
Kidney infections are caused by bacteria
Although kidney infections can cause discomfort and bleed, they rarely cause kidney stones. They are usually mild and usually clear up in one to three days. They usually respond to standard treatments and rest. Kidney stone removal involves surgical removal of the kidney.
A ureteroscope, a special type of a tube called a cannula, is inserted into the urethra to remove the stones. The tubes are then removed from the body and disposed of. Though there is no cure for kidney stones, a surgical procedure will usually prevent them from forming further. Treatment can take several weeks or months, depending on the location of the kidney stone.
The most common option for removing stones is through surgery
Surgery is not for everyone. It’s important to discuss with your doctor before starting a surgical procedure, as some surgeries are more dangerous than others may need to be performed under anaesthesia. If you have a family history of kidney stones, you may want to undergo a medical examination to rule out any other possible causes of the kidney stones.
Once you have determined that you don’t have kidney stones, your doctor can recommend other treatment options. Your doctor may also prescribe medications, dietary changes, or lifestyle changes to help you reduce the chances of getting further stones.
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