The first thing that comes to mind when you think of kidney stones is pain. But that is not all there is to them. There are some facts about kidney stones that will surprise you and will change your approach to managing them.
Facts about kidney stones you should know
All kidney stones may not cause any pain
Kidney stones do not cause any pain as long as they remain in the kidneys. They can stay in the kidneys for years without causing any symptom. It is only when they start moving through the ureters that they cause symptoms. The symptoms can range from pain, blood in the urine, cloudy or foul-smelling urine, nausea, chills and fever.
Kidney stones can grow up to the size of a golf ball
Kidney stones come in many sizes. They range from the size of a grain of sand to the rare golf ball sized stone. The symptoms they cause depends on their size. Larger stones cause greater pain as they are pushed through the ureter, narrow tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. Generally, they do not cause any permanent damage, but larger stones can cause serious complications if they block the urinary tract. This can increase the pressure in the kidneys and lead to kidney damage.
Children can get kidney stones too
Kidney stones can affect anyone anytime. Though studies show that men are more likely to have them, 1 in 11 people get kidneys stones by the age of 70. Even children as young as 5 years have been found to have kidney stones.
Diabetes increases the risk of developing kidney stones
Certain health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and urinary tract infections can increase the risk of formation of kidney stones. Managing chronic diseases and having a good diet with plenty of fluids can help reduce the risk.
Salt is the enemy
A diet that is high in salt, sugar and animal protein greatly increases the risk of stones. Salt is a crucial factor as it inhibits your body’s ability to absorb calcium. This can lead to a high level of calcium in the urine which can result in kidney stones.
Water is the key
Kidney stones are formed when the urine becomes saturated. If you do not drink enough water or fluids, then the level of minerals in the urine will be high. This can promote the formation of stones in the kidney. Drink plenty of water to flush out the minerals easily to avoid crystalisation.
Calcium is not the culprit
Everyone believes that calcium intake will cause kidney stones, but their belief is wrong. Calcium intake within normal limits does not increase the risk of stones. It is only when you eat too much salt that your body becomes unable to absorb calcium. This increases the level of calcium in the urine and could lead to stones.
Summer is the season for kidney stones
The risk of stone formation increases greatly during summer and if you have had them before then you should be extra careful during this season. During summer or very hot periods, your body will lose water through sweat. If you do not compensate by drinking adequate volumes of water, your urine will become saturated. This will increase the likelihood of stones and urinary tract infections.
Kidney stone is a recurrent habit
If your body has formed kidney stones once, then it is likely it will form them again. You should have the stone tested to find its type, and modify your diet accordingly. A modified diet and plenty of water could reduce the risk of stone formation.
Kidney stones can be shocked into submission
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) is a non-invasive procedure to treat kidney stones that are too large to pass through the urinary tract. During the procedure, shockwaves are used to shatter the stone into tiny fragments. These are then easily flushed out along with urine. ESWL is used to prevent large stones from causing serious complications.
Kidney stones are common and can affect even children. You can avoid them by adopting a healthy diet and drinking sufficient liquids, especially water. If you do have kidney stones, you don’t have to be alarmed. Painkillers and enough water can help you get rid of them. Even some larger stones can be treated without surgery.
If you have any of the symptoms of kidney stones, consult our expert for the best treatment options.