Kidney stones is a concerning problem that is on the rise among people of all age groups and ethnicities across the globe. Stones in the kidney, says Dr Deepak Reddy Ragoori, MS, M.Ch. (Uro), Consultant Urologist, Asian Institute of Nephrology & Urology, are the result of hard deposits that are made up of calcium, oxalates and other minerals excreted in the urine. “These stones can be in different sizes, shapes and densities. While the smaller ones (<5mm) can come out through the urinary tract spontaneously with/without visiting a doctor, the larger ones will need a urologist’s advice,” he adds.
In certain cases, these stones can become bigger and even block the urinary tract leading to swelling up of the kidney, causing severe pain and at times kidney damage as well. He further explains that in most cases, these stones crystalize, stick together and do not let urine flow properly. “In such a situation, it may even cause infection in the kidney along with other complications. According to a report of National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), over 12% of the total population in India suffers from the problem of kidney stones,” the expert says.
Though there is no exact cause for kidney stones, in majority of the cases, these are formed due to the high concentration of minerals in the urine. Apart from that, other factors like food habits, decreased intake of water and medication can also be the cause of stone formation. Some of the other main causes of kidney stones include:
*Medical conditions like Type 2 diabetes, renal tubular acidosis, gout and hyperparathyroidism and genetic kidney problems like medullary sponge kidney can also cause kidney stones
*A few antibiotics, HIV and blood pressure medications can also cause formation of stones as they have a high concentration of minerals.
*There is a familial tendency in kidney stone formation.
In today’s time and age, most people have adopted a sedentary lifestyle that impacts the overall health including kidneys. Hence, it is crucial to start taking steps from the early stage in life to prevent the risk of kidney stones. Although it is impossible to eradicate the risk completely, a few simple but important modifications can surely decrease the possibility of kidney stones. Some of the ways to prevent them are as follows, according to Dr Ragoori:
Weight management – It has been seen that the risk of kidney stones gets doubled if a person is dealing with obesity. Therefore, it is very important to manage a healthy body mass index (BMI). Having some form of physical workout for at least 30 minutes every day will help to keep the weight under control.
Drink water – To dilute the formation of minerals in the urine, one needs to drink enough water. Drinking at least 10 cups of water ( 2500 – 3000 ml ) daily keeps the kidneys healthy. At the same time, one must also drink adequate citrus drink like lemon or orange juice as they are high in citrate.
Diet – What we eat plays a direct role in determining formation of kidney stones. In majority of the cases, these stones are formed due to the accumulation of calcium with oxalate. Therefore, one must always consult a doctor for determining a balanced diet to ensure balanced calcium intake, especially if they already have suffered with kidney stone problems in the past. Restrict the amount of salt intake and food with added preservatives.
When to see a doctor?
If there is any problem with kidney function it most likely will impact the overall wellbeing. One of the biggest challenges is that in the majority of the patients, there are few symptoms of kidney stones at an early stage. Hence, it is important to watch out for the warning signs that can be an indication of stone formation. Some of the major warning signs include:
Medication: Once diagnosed with kidney stones, doctors generally prescribe a few medications depending upon the stone location and size to ensure that the stone passes without any problem.
Surgeries: In case, the stone is too large in size and medication cannot help, endoscopic surgeries are done which usually involve small or no incisions (cuts).
Dilation Device andAccess Sheaths: This small device provides ureteral dilation and working channel for the introduction of ureteroscopes and devices during ureteroscopy procedures.
Stone Retrieval Basket: When removing complex stones of varying size and composition in challenging locations, every detail matters. These retrieval baskets allow for close stone proximity for successful retrieval of calyceal calculi.
Lithotripsy products: These medical devices provide a comprehensive solution and deliver an evolving portfolio of high-performance lasers, fibres, lithotripsy devices and accessories to make kidney stone removal effective and affordable.
While there are a lot of stone management options available, it is best if people follow prevention.