Kidney stones are painful urinary disorders that start as salt/chemical crystals which precipitate out from urine. Under normal circumstances, the urine contains substances that prevent crystallization but for patients with this condition, these inhibitory substances are ineffective. Tiny crystals will pass out along with the urinary flow without causing problems. At least 1% of people will pass a kidney stone during their lifetime, producing some of the most severe pain possible.
Kidney stones may contain various forms of salts - the most common is calcium in combination with either phosphate or oxalate. These salts are an essential part of our daily dietary intake and requirement. Other types of stones are the struvite stone (caused by infection), uric acid stone and cystine stone.
The reasons why some people develop kidney stones are not fully understood. There is certainly a strong familial predisposition to this condition, and restricted water consumption is another important factor. High levels of urinary calcium, due to an excess of non-absorbable calcium being consumed, can cause crystallization and subsequent stone formation. Metabolic conditions e.g. hyperparathyroidism, cystinuria (inherited disease), and hyperoxaluria (inherited disease) are also common causes of stone formation.
- With plenty of water, most stones can pass through if small.
- Pain-killers (as prescribed by the doctor)
- Some medications may help 'breakdown' larger stone
- Shockwave therapy (F-SWL) to break the stone
- Surgical intervention - cystoscope or open surgery
Prevention is very important especially in those with a high likelihood of developing this condition. Recurrence rate for stone formation is very high.
- Drinking a lot of water is best (enough to produce about 2 liters of urine a day).
- Those with a tendency to form calcium stones may want to avoid foods rich in calcium (dairy products) and abstain from taking non-prescribed calcium pill supplements.
- Those prone to get calcium oxalate stones may be advised to avoid the consumption of foods high in oxalates (cola, coffee, chocolate, nuts, spinach, strawberries, wheat bran, tea)
- Medical therapy is available for those with known conditions that predispose to stone formation.
Bacteria: Microscopic germs. Some bacteria are "harmful" and can cause disease, while other "friendly" bacteria protect the body from harmful invading organisms.
Calcium: The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.
Chronic Renal Failure: (CRF) Irreversible, progressive impaired kidney function. The early stage, when the kidneys no longer function properly but do not yet require dialysis, is known as Chronic Renal Insufficiency (CRI). CRI can be difficult to diagnose, as symptoms are not usually apparent until kidney disease has progressed significantly. Common symptoms include a frequent need to urinate and swelling, as well as possible anemia, fatigue, weakness, headaches and loss of appetite. As the disease progresses, other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bad breath and itchy skin may develop as toxic metabolites, normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys, build up to harmful levels. Over time (up to 10 or 20 years), CRF generally progresses from CRI to End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD, also known as Kidney Failure). Patients with ESRD no longer have kidney function adequate to sustain life and require dialysis or kidney transplantation. Without proper treatment, ESRD is fatal.
Colitis: Inflammation of the colon.
Cystine: A nonessential amino acid but may be essential for individuals with certain diseases or nutritional concerns. Cystine is a structural component of tissues and hormones. Interconvertible with l-cysteine.
Diuretic: An agent increasing urine flow, causing the kidneys to excrete more than the usual amount of sodium, potassium and water.
Gout: A disease characterized by an increased blood uric acid level and sudden onset of episodes of acute arthritis.
Immune System: A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.
Kidney Stone: A stone (concretion) in the kidney. If the stone is large enough to block the tube (ureter) and stop the flow of urine from the kidney, it must be removed by surgery or other methods. Also called Renal Calculus. Symptoms usually begin with intense waves of pain as a stone moves in the urinary tract. Typically, a person feels a sharp, cramping pain in the back and side in the area of the kidney or in the lower abdomen. Sometimes nausea and vomiting occur. Later, pain may spread to the groin. The pain may continue if the stone is too large to pass; blood may appear in the urine and there may be the need to urinate more often or a burning sensation during urination. If fever and chills accompany any of these symptoms, an infection may be present and a doctor should be seen immediately.
Metabolism: The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.
Mineral: Plays a vital role in regulating many body functions. They act as catalysts in nerve response, muscle contraction and the metabolism of nutrients in foods. They regulate electrolyte balance and hormonal production, and they strengthen skeletal structures.
Protein: Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.
Serum: The cell-free fluid of the bloodstream. It appears in a test tube after the blood clots and is often used in expressions relating to the levels of certain compounds in the blood stream.
Ulcerative Colitis: (Colitis ulcerosa): Ulceration of the colon and rectum, usually long-term and characterized by rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, frequent urgent diarrhea/bowel movements each day, abdominal pain.
Vitamin D: A fat-soluble vitamin essential to one's health. Regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood by improving their absorption and utilization. Necessary for normal growth and formation of bones and teeth. For Vitamin D only, 1mcg translates to 40 IU.