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Kidney stones also known as nephrolithiasis are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. These stones can develop in one or both kidneys and most often affect people aged 30 to 60.

According to the National Health Service in United Kingdom, three in 20 men and up to two in 20 women develop kidney stones at some stage of their lives.

SYMPTOMS OF KIDNEY STONES

If kidney stones are very small, they are unlikely to cause obvious symptoms. In some cases, these stones may go undetected and pass out painlessly during urination.

Symptoms of kidney stones will manifest if;

  1. The stone starts to travel down the ureter (the tube that attaches each kidney to the bladder). The ureter is very narrow and kidney stones can cause so much pain as they try to pass through.
  2. An infection manifest,

The symptoms include;

  1. Persistent ache in the lower back and pain in the testicles and scrotum of men.
  2. Restlessness
  3. Frequent urination
  4. Painful urination
  5. Haematuria (blood in your urine); this may arise when the stones scratch the kidney or ureter.
  6. Fever and chills if an infection is present
  7. Urinating small amounts
  8. Nausea and vomiting

TYPES OF KIDNEY STONES

Kidney stones come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours. Some are like grains of sand, while in rare cases others can grow to the size of a ball. The knowledge of these stones

The four main types of kidney stones are:

  • Calcium Stones: Most kidney stones are calcium stones and appear in the form of calcium oxalate. This oxalate can be seen in some fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate. Also, dietary factors, high doses of vitamin D, some metabolic disorders can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate in urine.
  • Struvite Stones: They are often horn-shaped and quite large. They contain magnesium and ammonia.
  • Uric Acid Stones: They are usually smooth, brown and softer than other types of kidney stones.
  • Cystine Stones: They are often yellow and resemble crystals rather than stones.

 

CAUSES OF KIDNEY STONES

Kidney stones often have no definite or single cause though several factors may increase the risk. Some medications such as aspirin, diuretics and antibiotics have also been identified to cause its manifestations.

RISK FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH KIDNEY STONE

  • Obesity has been linked to increased risk of kidney stones.
  • Family and personal history
  • Dehydration
  • Diets high in protein, sodium and salt.
  • Digestive diseases such as chronic diarrhoea can affect water absorption leading to stone forming substances in the urine.

DIAGNOSIS OF KIDNEY STONES

Based on your symptoms and medical history, the doctor will make diagnosis and refer for some investigations including;

  • Laboratory Analysis such as renal function tests, urinalysis and urine culture to check for infections and pieces of stones.
  • Imaging test such as CT scan, X-ray, Ultrasound scan and Ultravenous urogram.

PREVENTION

The best way of preventing kidney stones is to make sure one drinks plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Regular intake of tea, coffee and fruit juice can count towards your fluid intake, but water is the healthiest option and is best for preventing kidney stones developing.

TREATMENT OF KIDNEY STONES

The treatment is also dependent on the level of pains or symptoms one is experiencing. Medications can be administered by the doctor and the individual is advised to take enough fluid to aid frequent urination. The individual may also be advised to use gauze while urinating such that the stones are trapped.

REFERENCES: National Health Service, UK. Mayo Clinic.

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