Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Kidney stones and ureteral stones are both types of calculi, or hard deposits that form in the urinary tract. Kidney stones form in the kidneys, while ureteral stones form in the ureters, which are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Kidney stones and ureteral stones can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Severe pain in the back or side.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Blood in the urine.
- Painful urination.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away. Kidney stones and ureteral stones can be serious, but they are usually treatable.
What causes kidney and ureteral stones?
Kidney and ureteral stones are caused by an imbalance of minerals in the urine. The most common type of kidney stone is a calcium oxalate stone, which is formed when there is too much calcium and oxalate in the urine. Other types of kidney stones include uric acid stones, cystine stones, and struvite stones.
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney stones, including:
- Family history of kidney stones.
- Certain medications, such as steroids and diuretics.
- Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, gout, and bowel disease.
- A diet high in salt, animal protein, and sugar.
- A diet low in fluids.
How are kidney and ureteral stones diagnosed?
Your doctor will likely diagnose kidney or ureteral stones based on your symptoms and a physical exam. They may also order a blood test and urine test to check for signs of kidney stones. In some cases, your doctor may order an imaging test, such as an ultrasound, X-ray, or CT scan, to see the stones and determine their size and location.
How are kidney and ureteral stones treated?
The treatment for kidney and ureteral stones depends on the size and location of the stones, as well as your symptoms. Small stones may pass on their own without treatment. Larger stones or stones that are causing pain may require treatment to break them up or remove them.
There are a number of different treatment options for kidney and ureteral stones, including:
- Medications to help pass the stones.
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), which uses sound waves to break up the stones.
- Ureteroscopy, which uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera to view the ureter and remove the stones.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), which is a minimally invasive surgery that uses a needle to access the kidney and remove the stones.
How can I prevent kidney and ureteral stones?
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent kidney and ureteral stones, including:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
- Eat a balanced diet that is low in salt, animal protein, and sugar.
- Avoid foods that are high in oxalate, such as spinach, rhubarb, and beets.
- Take medications to help prevent stones, if necessary.
If you have a history of kidney stones, it is important to see your doctor regularly for checkups. This will help to ensure that any new stones are diagnosed and treated early.
If you have any questions or concerns about kidney or ureteral stones, connect with us.