What are kidney stones?
In simple chemistry terms, stones occur when the concentration of certain minerals such as calcium in the urine becomes high enough to crystallize into solid particles.
What causes kidney stones to form?
There can be many reasons to develop kidney stones. Not drinking enough fluids, particularly in the hot summer months, having too much calcium or salt in your diet, and having certain metabolic abnormalities all can cause kidney stones. Obesity, diabetes, weight loss surgery, and certain medications can also cause kidney stones.
How common are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are very common.
What are the symptoms of kidney stones?
Kidney stones can present with deep, achy pain in the flank which can migrate to the groin. Nausea and vomiting, and blood in the urine can also be signs of a kidney stone.
How are kidney stones diagnosed?
Kidney stones are usually diagnosed by imaging such as CT scan or an ultrasound of the kidneys.
How are kidney stones treated?
Not all kidney stones need to be treated. Some are small enough and the patients are comfortable enough to allow spontaneous passage of stones. If the stone is too large or patients' are having severe pain, treatment usually consists of going up with a fiberoptic scope and camera through the urinary tract and lasering the stone. If the stones are too big and the patient is comfortable, treating with shock wave therapy or making a small puncture into the kidney to remove the stones directly is an option.
How can I reduce my risk of having kidney stones?
Drinking more fluid, in particular water, will reduce the risk of kidney stones. Adding citrus to the diet such as lemons or grapefruits (often added to water), reducing salt and animal protein can also help reduce risk. Occasionally medications are prescribed if stone development persists despite these measures.