Kidney Stones – Causes Symptoms and Treatment Options

Kidney stones can be painful but most are small enough to pass without permanent damage. Doctors treat them by asking patients to drink plenty of fluids, especially water.

They also recommend avoiding foods that are high in oxalate, such as rhubarb, spinach, beets, chocolate and nuts. Doctors can also perform a procedure called ureteroscopy to remove large stones or multiple kidney stones.

Symptoms

If you’re experiencing severe pain or have a kidney stone that won’t pass, a urological surgeon in Melbourne is here to assist you. From advising on hydration and urine straining to providing pain relief medications, they will ensure comprehensive care tailored to your needs. Small stones typically pass within 31 to 45 days without causing lasting harm, but for complex cases, trust our expertise to navigate your treatment journey effectively.

The pain from a kidney stone often comes and goes as the stone moves around inside your urinary tract. The pain may be felt along your side, belly and groin. It may get worse when you try to urinate or when the stone hits a nerve in your lower back. You may have to urinate frequently, especially if the stone is in your ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder).

Your healthcare provider will examine you and do blood tests to check your kidney function, find out how many kidney stones you have and how big they are. They will also use imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans to see the location, size and shape of your kidney or ureter stones. Your provider may also do a procedure called a ureteroscopy, or if the stone is in your bladder, a cystoscope, to remove it. They may also give you a medicine called an alpha blocker, such as tamsulosin (Flomax) or nifedipine (Adalat and Procardia), to relax your ureter and make it easier for the stone to pass.

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Diagnosis

The first step in diagnosing kidney stones is for your doctor to collect a urine sample from you. They may also do a blood test to check for substances related to stone formation, such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid. They can also do imaging tests, such as an abdominal X-ray, a computerized tomography (CT) scan or an ultrasound. They might use a technique called shock wave lithotripsy, which uses shock waves to break apart stones. Then they can send the fragments through the tube that carries urine out of the body, the urethra. They will X-ray the tube afterwards to see if the fragments have passed or got stuck in your urinary tract.

If you have severe pain in your belly area or on one side of your back (abdomen), a fever, chills, a loss of appetite, vomiting or other symptoms, get medical help right away. You should also seek care if you have signs of a urinary tract infection, such as pain when you urinate or blood in your urine.

If you have small kidney stones that don’t cause symptoms, your family doctor can usually manage them. But if you have a large kidney stone that causes pain or other problems, your doctor will refer you to a specialist in disorders of the urinary tract (urologist or nephrologist). You can lower your risk for future stones by drinking enough fluids to produce about two quarts of urine a day.

Treatment

If the stone is not blocking urine flow, doctors may decide to monitor your symptoms and wait to see if it passes on its own. If that is not possible, your doctor can test your blood to look for substances found in kidney stones and do imaging tests (an ultrasound or CT scan) of the kidneys and urinary tract to find the stone and see how large it is.

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The most common treatment is a noninvasive procedure called lithotripsy, in which sound waves break the stone into tiny fragments that your body naturally passes in the urine. You can have lithotripsy done in your doctor’s office or a hospital.

Other treatments can be used for specific types of kidney stones. For example, struvite stones can be prevented by avoiding foods high in purines, such as shellfish and meat, which increase the acidity of urine. Cystine stones can be prevented by getting enough protein in your diet, and by treating a rare condition called cystinuria, which causes too much cystine to leak from the kidneys into the urine.

Kidney stones are more likely to form if you don’t drink enough water, so drinking plenty of fluids is the main treatment for most cases. Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, can help with discomfort. If you pass a kidney stone, save it so your doctor can test it to learn what kind it is, which can help prevent future kidney stones.

Prevention

The best treatment for kidney stones is to prevent them. Changes in diet can reduce your chances of getting them. Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits. Drink plenty of fluids — especially water — every day. This keeps your urine diluted, which prevents waste products from becoming too concentrated. Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sodium (such as cola beverages, fast food, and salty snacks). Eat less protein from animals and more from vegetables, beans, and soy products. Avoid high-protein foods that are high in oxalates, which may increase your risk for calcium oxalate stones. Examples of oxalate-rich foods are rhubarb, beets, chocolate, spinach, and certain supplements.

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Kidney stones that are small often pass on their own, especially if you drink enough liquids. Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, or enough to produce 2 liters of urine. Fluids can include juice, tea, and coffee.

Larger stones may need treatment, depending on their size and whether they cause symptoms or blockage. Your doctor can use shock waves or a procedure called ureteroscopy to break up or remove them. They can also give you a medicine that relaxes the muscles in your ureters, which helps the stones pass. This medicine is usually tamsulosin (Flomax), a type of alpha blocker. Another medication, nifedipine (Adalat or Procardia), can also relax the muscles in your ureters.

Perera Urology
Suite 118/55 Flemington Rd,
North Melbourne VIC 3051
1300 884 673
www.pereraurology.com