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Kidney Stones


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by M. J. Joachim

Kidney stones, medically referred to as renal calculi, are an extremely painful medical condition that develops when calcium and minerals do not exit the body readily. As these substances accumulate, they can create tiny stones that lodge in the kidneys and urinary tract, moving slowly along until they are passed out through the urethra.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Symptoms of kidney stones include back pain, cloudy urine, acute burning sensations when urinating, nausea and sometimes fever.  First signs of kidney stones are often mistaken for a sore back or bladder infection. Because of this, many people fail to seek medical attention until they have been in pain for several days.

  • Back Pain: Back pain associated with kidney stones is intense. It tends to come and go as the kidney stone moves from the kidney into the urethra and throughout the urinary tract to exit the body.
  • Cloudy Urine: Urine tends to appear cloudy, with a whitish (almost chalky) tint. Sometimes there will be an orange tint indicative of blood in the urine. Urine flow decreases as stones make their way out of the body, sometimes giving the urine a stronger odor than usual.
  • Acute Burning Sensations: Kidney stones come in many shapes and sizes. Some of them have jagged and sharp edges that scrape along the urinary tract, often causing bleeding and sometimes causing scarring.
  • Fever: Kidney stones can cause secondary infections, if they are not treated and passed in a timely manner. The longer they stay in the kidneys and urinary tract, the more likely they are to cause multiple problems for the person suffering from them.

Prognosis

Approximately 10% of the population will get at least one kidney stone at some point in their lives. Those who do get them are more likely to have a repeat occurrence. Most kidney stones remain small and relatively easy to pass, without a strong risk of developing complications from them. Diet and hereditary conditions appear to play a role in the manifestation of kidney stones.  While they are excruciating, kidney stones are rarely life threatening, and unlikely to cause permanent damage.

Treatment

One of the easiest ways to treat kidney stones is to flush the urinary system with large amounts of fluids, particularly water and cranberry juice. Water will help create a continuous flow of urine. Cranberry juice will minimize risk of bladder and urinary tract infections.  Other treatments for kidney stones include taking homeopathic, herbal cleansing supplements, shock wave therapy and in extreme cases, surgery to remove the stone.

The most common treatment for kidney stones is pain management. Relaxation techniques, stretching exercises and walking help kidney stones exit the body more quickly, even though the associated pain makes it difficult to move around. While kidney stones are extremely painful, they're numbers can be minimized by eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly and drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.