Kidneys are a paired bean-shaped organ located below our ribs on each side of the spine. The kidneys function to filter blood, eliminate waste, and manage the bodily fluid balance. Sometimes, when an individual has too much waste and not enough fluid in the blood, the wastes can build up and deposit together in the kidneys. These collections of waste are known as kidney stones.
A kidney stone is composed of crystals formed by chemicals that discrete from the urine.
Majority of kidney stones contain calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. This rare common type of stone, caused by an infection in the urinary tract, is known as struvite stone. Other kidney stones involve uric acid stones and cystine stones.
Calcium stones are the most commonly occurring kidney stone. They are often made of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, or maleate (in lesser amount). Eating low oxalate-rich food can reduce your risk of developing such type of kidney stone. Potato, peanuts, beets, spinach or chocolates are some of the high-oxalate foods.
Note: Some kidney stones are made of calcium, but getting enough calcium in your diet can prevent the formation of stones. Always consult your physician for guidance.
This type of kidney stone is more common in males than in females. They can be found in people with gout or those going through chemotherapy. This type of stone formation takes place when urine is excessively acidic. Purines rich-diet can increase the level of acid in urine. Purine is a colourless component found in animal proteins, such as fish and meats.
This type of stone occurs mainly in women having urinary tract infections. These stones can be large and may cause urinary obstructions. Treating an underlying infection can help prevent the development of struvite stones.
Cystine stones are very rare. They occur in individuals who have the genetic disorder, cystinuria. With cystine, an acid that produces naturally in the body, leaks from the kidneys into the urine.
One of the most significant risk factors of kidney stones is formation of less than 1 litre of urine per day. Due to this reason, kidney stones are common in premature infants who suffer from kidney problems. However, kidney stones are most likely to found in people of age group 20-50.
Other risk factors include:
Kidney stone’s initial symptoms can cause severe pain. The symptoms begin to feel when the stone starts to move down the ureters. This sharp pain is known as renal colic. A person may have pain on one side of the back or abdomen.
Other symptoms include:
Adequate Water Intake – If an individual is prone to form stones, try to drink enough liquid throughout the day to produce more than one litre of clear urine. Increasing water intake enhances urinating frequency, thereby producing more urine.
Calcium Intake – Previously, people who formed calcium stones were asked to avoid dairy products and other foods with high calcium content. Recent studies have shown that foods that are highly rich in calcium, including dairy products, may help prevent calcium stones. Women in their older age taking calcium supplements to prevent bone loss should continue to do so.
Oxalate Intake – If you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, you may be asked by your healthcare advisor or doctor to limit or avoid selected food items.
Vitamin D Intake – People with kidney stones may be told to avoid food with added vitamin D and a few types of antacids that may contain a calcium base.
A Blood test is a helpful pathology test that can reveal the amount of calcium and uric acid present in the blood. It helps the doctors to examine the health of kidneys and other medical conditions.
The urine test measures urine composition. A 24-hour urine collection reveals if the patient is excreting too much stone-forming minerals or too less stone-preventing substances.
Imaging tests may show kidney stones present in the urinary tract. Imaging tests include simple abdominal X-rays, high-speed or dual-energy computerized tomography (CT) that may point out even tiny stones.
Note: Always consult your physician before any tests.
Other screening options to diagnose kidney stones include an ultrasound, urography, an intravenous process which involves injecting dye into an arm vein and taking X-rays (intravenous pyelogram) or getting CT images (CT urogram) as the dye travels through the urinary tract.
Analysis of Passed Stones – The patient may be asked to urinate through a strainer to catch stones that pass. Lab analysis will reveal the type or makeup of kidney stones. The doctor uses this information to discover what’s causing kidney stones.
Diagnostics and Pathology Tests Available At House of Diagnostics (HOD).