Kidney stones are hard concretions of minerals and other substances normally found in your body that clump together, forming stones in your kidneys. The materials that comprise the stones (calcium, phosphorous, and oxalate) usually pass through your kidneys without incident, but sometimes, they stick to each other and form stones. Some stones can be very tiny and pass from your kidneys into your bladder and out of your body through urine without causing any noticeable symptoms (or very mild symptoms). Other times, they can grow to be large enough to cause more serious symptoms that require medical treatment to resolve. Anyone can develop kidney stones, but they tend to be more common in people with a family history of kidney stones and people with chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) and certain diseases or conditions, including digestive disorders. Dietary habits can also influence your risk of developing kidney stones.
When stones are large enough to cause symptoms, you might experience issues like:
The type and severity of symptoms can vary based on the stone’s size and location.
Treatment begins with X-rays or other imaging to determine the size of the stone and its’ location. Some very small stones can be passed without medical intervention. In those cases, you’ll need to drink a lot of water and walk actively to help push the stone along so it can be excreted through the urine. You might be asked to urinate through a strainer or filter designed to catch the stone so it can be analyzed. Once the stone is passed, you still might have some residual symptoms like back or lower belly pain, but they should soon resolve. Larger stones that can’t be passed or stones that are “hung up” or stuck will need to be broken up or removed surgically. Some very large stones might need to be removed through an incision in your back, but in most cases, they can be removed through special devices designed to be inserted through the urethra. When a stone is removed, it can be analyzed to determine the minerals it contains. Using that information, Dr. McKenzie can help you alter your diet or take other steps to prevent stones from occurring in the future.
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