Food, HEALTH/FOOD

Who Is At Risk Of Getting Kidney Stones?

Renal lithiasis is the term used for kidney stones which are formed from a build-up of crystals made up of acid salts and minerals.  These stones are mainly made up of calcium salts namely calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. A high number of visits to the emergency room at hospitals are for symptoms related to kidney stones.

Who is at risk of getting kidney stones?

Photo Credit: BruceBlaus - Kidney Stones.
Photo Credit: BruceBlaus – Kidney Stones.

Men between the ages of 25-49 have a higher risk of developing these stones in the kidneys. These stones can migrate to the urinary tract. Dietary preferences and the pH of the urine can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. It is to be noted that there are medications that can contribute to the build-up of mineral salts such as calcium containing antacids, diuretics, and antiretroviral preparations.

Obese persons and pregnant women are also at risk of developing kidney stones. Medical conditions which can put persons at risk to develop kidney stone are the chronic diseases namely:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes
  • Recurrent kidney infections
  • Hyperparathyroidism

Symptoms of kidney stones

It is the movement of the stones in the kidney or the migration to the small tubes leading from the kidney to the bladder which causes pain.

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain on urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Loin pain which radiates to the groin

The medical history of the symptoms and physical examination done by the doctor will give a preliminary diagnosis. Diagnostic studies which include x-rays, ultrasound and CT scan will confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

Some patients will pass out the stone with the urine and have no pain whatsoever. Others experience severe pain when the kidney stone is moving along the urinary tract.

Hospitalized patients have the following treatment options:

  1. IV fluids and strong analgesics will help with the expulsion of the stones.
  2. Surgical procedure to remove the stone may have to be performed.
  3. Lithotripsy is a treatment which has grown in popularity. Ultrasonic waves are used to break up the stones which can then be passed out in the urine.

Healthy habits to maintain healthy kidneys

  • Keep well-hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily. Two clues you may be dehydrated are thirst and yellow urine. Other signs are headache and dizziness.
  • Do not abuse the use of antacid salts
  • Avoid high dietary intake of calcium rich food, salted foods, sugary foods and calcium oxalate containing vegetables namely spinach.
  • Take supplements with minerals as directed. Do not exceed the dose.
  • Seek prompt medical treatment for a urinary tract infection. Be sure to take the full course of antibiotics to ensure the infection is completely resolved.

Males between the ages of 25-45 years are at higher risk of developing kidney stones. It is important to seek medical care for symptoms suggestive of kidney problems. Despite the severity of the pain kidney stones are not life threatening and can be resolved with medical intervention.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

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