Kidney stones: Causes, sympt ms and treatment

Have you been experiencing pain while urinating? Did you come across pinkish or cloudy urine recently? Is abdominal or back pain giving you sleepless nights? The chances are that you might be having kidney stones.

Hard deposits of minerals and salts in your kidney form kidney stones. They are also known as renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis. Before delving deeper, let us have the disease burden of kidney stones in India at a glance:

  • The highest incidence of kidney stones is seen in the age group of 25-45 years.
  • Men are three times as much affected as women by kidney stones.
  • In India, approximately 5 to 7 million patients suffer from kidney stones.

Reasons for its high incidence in India:

  • Climate – As a country, India sees severely scorching summers resulting in the passage of highly concentrated, sometimes acidic urine.
  • Water intake – Dry arid regions followed by a lack of potable water contribute to lower average water intake in Indians. This is further aggravated by excessive sweating.
  • Diet – Indian diet is rich in stone-forming elements such as higher levels of fat and calcium in dairy, oxalates in green vegetables, phosphates in cereals, etc.
  • Lack of protein – Good quality protein is generally missing from our vegetables, poultry etc.
  • Higher disease burden of obesity and diabetes – Both conditions lead to excessive production of acidic urine, creating conditions for urolithiasis.

Kidney stones symptoms

Apart from burning sensation or pain during urination, the most commonly reported Kidney stone symptoms are severe sharp pain in the back or below the ribs. Patients often feel the pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin. Sometimes pain also increases and decreases in intensity, feeling like waves across the aforementioned regions.

Other signs:

  • Frequent urination
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • In case of any infection, a person can also have fever and chills

Kidney stone treatment

In the coming years, kidney stone treatment has advanced, offering various options according to the type of stone found and the disease intensity.

Pain relievers – These are prescribed to reduce pain and discomfort during bodily movements or urination. Common medicines include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Medication – Doctors may prescribe alpha-blockers, which relax the ureter muscles, thus helping kidney stones move out of your bowel system. Such drugs include tamsulosin (Flomax) and the drug combination dutasteride and tamsulosin (Jalyn).

Intensive treatment options –

Sound wave therapy – Kidney stones depending on size and location, are broken with the help of sound waves. This is done through extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), which produces sound waves, sending strong vibrations which then grind the stones into smaller pieces. The process takes about 45-60 minutes.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy – It means the surgical removal of a stone (smaller in size) by making a small incision in your back.

Surgical scope – When smaller stones are found in your ureter or kidney, a camera-equipped lighted tube is passed through your urethra and bladder. Then specialized tools are used to remove or break the stones into smaller pieces directly.

Parathyroid gland surgery – Overactive parathyroid glands or hyperparathyroidism can sometimes result in calcium phosphate stones. It is treated either by surgical removal of the tumorous growth in the gland or through hormonal therapy.

If you or someone you know is experiencing constant pain or discomfort due to kidney stones, it is time to seek an expert medical opinion. Simply search for Dr Anupam Bhargava urologist or the Best Urologists in India, and you shall be redirected to SeekMed. SeekMed is a renowned telemedicine platform that connects you to super specialists who can provide medical diagnosis confirmation, affordable treatment options, and preventive care advice. Book your e-consultation with  Dr Anupam Bhargava, Urologist or the Best Urologists in India, to make an informed decision for improved health outcomes.