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Diagnosed with kidney stones

I have been having serious problem with urination and also have pains on my back for some years. I take drugs whenever it is severe. Three weeks ago, I went for medical checkup and stones were discovered in my kidney. Kindly shed light on this 

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– Gabriel V

I wish you quick recovery and a healthy life. Kidney stone can be defined as a solid piece of material that forms in the kidney out of substances in the urine. A stone may stay in the kidney or break loose and travel down the urinary tract.

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A small stone may pass all the way out of the body without causing too much pain. A larger stone may get stuck in the ureter, the bladder or the urethra. A stone can block the flow of urine and cause great pain.

The symptoms

1. Extreme pain in the back or side that will not go away

2. Blood in urine

3. Fever and chills

4. Vomiting

5. Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy

6. Burning feeling when urinating

4 major types of kidney stone

1. Calcium kidney stones: This is by far the most common type. Around eight per cent of kidney stones can be categorised as calcium-type stones, and of those, most are calcium oxalate stones.

These stones are relatively small and can usually be passed without the need for surgery. There are a few main causes of calcium oxalate stones. Some instances are the result of a systemic disease such as bowel disease. However, most are caused by heredity, diet and living habits. Calcium phosphate stones are similar to calcium oxalate stones, but instead of the calcium combining with oxalic acid, it combines with phosphoric acid. 

2. Uric acid stones: These are formed when the urine is too acidic. Small crystals can pass through as a gravel-like substance, but since uric acid crystals can form and grow rapidly, there is the possibility that they can become very large and cause serious problems. Risk factors for this type of stones includes obesity, diabetes and gout.

3. Struvite stones: These are made up of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate, which are created in the body by certain types of bacteria, the presence of which affects the chemical balance in the urine. These type of stones, also known as infection stones, are more common in women, mostly due to the fact that women are more prone to urinary tract infection.  

4. Cystine kidney stones: These are the least common and they are relegated to those who are born with kidney disorder called Cystinuria. Its sufferers have kidneys that function well for the most part, but they let abnormal amounts of several amino acid into the urine. Most of these amino acids are harmless, but one is known as cystine, it can create crystals and stones. These type of stones can begin in childhood and aren’t easy to prevent.

Some treatment options

1. Shock Waves: This is the use of a machine that sends shock waves directly to the kidney stones which breaks a large stone and passes the particles in the urine.

2. Tunnel Surgery: this is a small cut into the patient’s back to make a narrow tunnel through the skin to the stone inside the kidney. With a special instrument that goes through the tunnel, the stones are found and removed. The name for this method is percutaneous nephrolithotomy.

3. Ureteroscope: Ureteroscope looks like a long wire. It is inserted into the patient’s urethra, then to the bladder and directed it to the ureter where the stone is located. The ureteroscope has a camera that views the stone. A cage is used to catch the stone and pull it out or destroy it with a device inserted through the ureteroscope.

Some preventive options 

1. Drinking a lot of water when eating and between the meals. It helps to flush away substances that form stones.

2. Take fruit juices and limit intake of coffee, tea and cola

3. Cut down on some foods such as meat.

4. Exercise regularly, but not a strenuously.

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