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Preventing kidney stones

Kidney stones cause pain and damages in the kidney. They do not result from eating stones but are the formation of crystalline  structures in the urinary tract from the kidneys to the bladder.

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A kidney stone is a hard deposit made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. Often, stones form when the urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together.

Dr Kwaifa Ibrahim, a Nephrologist (doctor specialized in kidney disease treatment) at the Wuse District Hospital, Abuja said it is part of the end product of body metabolism. He said they occur when the excretion in the kidney is slowed or reduced, when you have over production of such substances that are supposed to be excreted out, or have accumulation in the body. 

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“And if there is an enabling environment, it will encourage stones formation,” he said.

He said the testis is one of the enabling environments which causes reduction in the flow of urine thereby making the urine to stay more, and such substances accumulates and forms a stone. 

An infection affecting the passage of urine also promotes  stone formation.

 Kidney stones could also be formed through a condition in which there is loss of body fluid that is, loss of water from excessive heat and dryness, said Dr Kwaifa.

“When people become dehydrated the blood becomes a bit concentrated which is known as hypertonic, it’s a condition that promotes stone formation,” he said.

 He said there are areas in Nigeria with high prevalence of the disease tagged ‘stone belt’. They are Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Jigawa, parts of Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Borno and parts of Adamawa State.

 “These areas have extremely high temperature and dry thereby promoting stone formation. That is why it is advisable to drink a lot of water always to avoid being dehydrated because of the weather. There are other conditions or diseases that favour stone formation in the body, diseases that affect the liver, too much consumption of Uric Acid in any form, ulcerate which is usually metabolized in the intestine,” he said.

 The medical expert advised people to take lot of fluids especially water, three to four liters a day and that people with abnormality in the  kidney and urinary tract should undergo surgical corrections to avoid repeated kidney stones. 

Those that have high rate of metabolic issues that produces uric acids in their system could be treated with medication, he said.

 He also advised people to go for routine medical checkup at least twice a year since kidney stones cannot be diagnosed on its own except during some medical examinations.

 “It is discovered by accident when we do an ultrasound. We have less than ten percent giving you symptoms so; a lot of people are moving with stones in small sizes without knowing it. It is very difficult to detect until one goes for checkups.”

 Also a recent study has shown that symptomatic stones were less frequent and tended to be more noticeable in men due to prostatic obstructions, while women had a higher frequency of infection stones as a result of recurrent urinary tract infections.

Mayo Clinic researchers carried out the study using data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project. They investigated the rise in stone formers to determine if this is a new trend or simply an improvement in the way kidney stones are detected.

The lead investigator, Dr Andrew Rule said, symptomatic kidney stones are becoming more common in both men and women while explaining that it is due in part to the increased use of CT scans to diagnose kidney stones.

 Dr Rule noted that advances in imaging technology have allowed researchers to better examine and classify stone formation in patients than in days past. 

 Hope is not also lost for patients who struggle with painful kidney stones, Dr Rule said saying that dietary modifications are suggested to prevent future episodes, such adjustments include drinking more water, lowering salt intake and cutting back on meat.

 Results from a study also suggest that a history of kidney stones may indicate an increased risk for metabolic and hypertensive complications during pregnancy and add support to a growing body of research linking kidney stones with systemic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 

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