The kidneys are an important organ of your body. It is a pair of bean shaped organs on either side of your spine, behind your belly. The primary function of kidneys is to filter your blood stream. They perform multiple functions like removing waste, maintaining the levels of electrolytes in your body, and controlling the body’s fluid balance. The filtered waste of the body is then passed out in the form of urine. Like other organs of the body, kidneys are prone to several medical conditions. One of the most common conditions is the kidney stones problem. Did you know there are more than 1 million cases of kidney stones recorded every year, in India alone?
What is the Kidney Stones Problem?
Kidney stones are hard deposits of acid salts and minerals that get stuck together, usually in concentrated urine, and block the urine flow. The stones can be deposited in any part of your kidneys such as the urinary tract or the bladder.
In most cases, kidney stones don’t cause permanent damage, and can be treated with home remedies and pain killers. However, in certain cases, when the stones become huge in size, they need to be removed surgically.
Kidney Stones Symptoms
Before we jump to finding kidney stones solutions, let us understand the symptoms of kidney stones.
A kidney stone will usually not cause too many problems, if it is moving around within your kidney. However, if it gets stuck at any place, it may cause the blockage of the flow of urine. This causes the kidney to swell up and also produces excruciating pain by causing the ureter to spasm. Therefore, we can sum up the primary kidney stones symptoms below.
- Immense pain, especially while urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Sharp pain in the back or lower abdomen
- Nausea, dizziness and vomiting
- Urinating little volumes of urine
- Frequent urination
If you or someone you know, is going through the kidney stones symptoms, you should get yourself tested for diagnosing the problem. Let us take you through the methods of diagnosis.
Diagnosis of Kidney Stones Problem
Diagnosis of kidney stones requires a complete assessment of your health history as well as a physical examination.
Tests for the diagnosis include:
- Blood Tests for uric acid, phosphorus, calcium, electrolytes and more
- Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine tests in order to assess kidney functioning
- Urinalysis to check for white cells, blood, bacteria, and crystals
- Examination of passed stones to determine their type
The following tests can locate the kidney stone and rule out obstruction:
- Ultrasound of the kidney
- Abdominal X-rays
- Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)
- MRI scan of the abdomen and kidneys
- Abdominal CT scan
The most preferred and inexpensive test for the diagnosis is the ultrasound of your kidney or abdomen. It helps you diagnose, while also locate the exact position of the stone.
Natural Kidney Stones Solutions
First of all, you should know that the key to removing stones from your body is hydration. Fluids not only help release toxins from the body but also help in moving the stones through the urinary tract and flushing them out. So, let us find out some simple home remedies for kidney stones treatment.
Drinking lots of water not only helps in removing kidney stones from your body but also prevents more stones from developing in your body. So, if you are prone to stones or have been diagnosed with stones, you should certainly increase your water intake. Drink at least 12 glasses of water every day. You should keep a tab on the colour of your urine. It should be very light, pale yellow in colour instead of dark yellow. This would mean that your body is sufficiently hydrated. In fact, dehydration is one of the main causes of kidney stones.
Citrate, a chemical found in lemon juice, helps in the prevention of the formation of stones. It also helps in breaking down small stones and flushing them out. Add lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice to water and drink as often as you can.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which helps in dissolving kidney stones. Apart from helping in crushing the stones, apple cider vinegar also helps in reducing the pain. However, you must exercise with caution and drink only the necessary amounts of apple cider vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 250 ml of water and drink this mixture any time during the day. Alternatively, you can add the same quantity of apple cider vinegar to salads as dressing and eat that. Ensure that you are having only the prescribed quantity of apple cider vinegar.
Kidney Beans Broth
As goes by the name, the broth of kidney beans is traditionally used for improving the general functioning of the urinary tract and kidneys. Apart from this, the broth also helps in dissolving kidney stones and flushing them out of the body. You can simply strain the liquid from cooked kidney beans and drink it throughout the day.
Pomegranate juice contains antioxidants that help in not only crushing and removing stones from your body but also prevent stones from developing in the future. They also remove other toxins from your body. The juice also helps in lowering your urine’s acidity level. Lower acidity levels also help in reducing the risk of kidney stones problems.
Wheatgrass contains several nutrients that cleanse your body and release toxins. Further, it helps in increasing your urination flow, and thus helps in passing stones.
Basil contains acetic acid, which not only helps in breaking down kidney stones but also helps in relieving pain. You can drink a basil smoothie or basil tea several times a day to reap its benefits.
When Should You Visit A Doctor?
While home remedies can help in crushing and passing small kidney stones, for medium and larger stones, medicinal treatment may be required. You might also need an immediate surgery if the stones get stuck in the urinary tract or damage the tissues.
Normally, if your symptoms persist even after 6 weeks, or if the following symptoms are severe, you must visit a doctor immediately.
- Fever or chills
- Blood in urine
- Loss of consciousness
- Very painful urination
- Foul-smelling or cloudy or urine
- Persistent pain in your lower abdomen for more than 4 weeks
You can continue with the natural remedies, while simultaneously visiting your doctor for kidney stones treatment. Let us find out the possible treatments for kidney stones.
Kidney Stones Treatment
Your doctor could prescribe you medicines or they could opt for a surgery depending on the severity, size, location, and condition of your kidney stone problem.
The different surgeries that are used for kidney stones treatment include:
- Shock Wave Lithotripsy
- Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
- Laparoscopic surgery
- Parathyroid gland surgery
Causes of Kidney Stones Problem
Did you know that men report far more cases of kidney stones than women? This could well be a result of the different dietary habits of the two sexes.
You can prevent kidney stones if you understand the causes properly and take the right measures for prevention. Let us understand the causes now, so that you can prevent the development of stones in your body.
- Genetic inheritance of kidney stones
- Diet rich in protein or sodium
- Intestinal surgeries
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Use of certain medicines like calcium based antacids
Types of Kidney Stones
- Calcium Stones – Calcium stones constitute about 80% of the cases of kidney stone problems. Hence, it is appropriate to say that this is the most common type of kidney stone. These stones are either made up of calcium and oxalate, or calcium and phosphate.
- Uric Acid Stones – Uric acid stones are formed when your urine is far more acidic than it should be. These stones can either form by themselves, or can merge with calcium to form stones.
- Struvite Stones – Sometimes, your urinary tract may be infected, causing bacteria to build ammonia which then builds up in your urine. This is when struvite stones are formed. These stones are formed out of phosphate, magnesium, and ammonium.
- Cystine Stones – Cystine is a chemical produced by our bodies. Some people have a genetic disorder that causes cystine to leak into the urine, out from the kidneys. This develops cystine stones. This is perhaps the rarest form of kidney stones.
Based on the ways in which kidney stones develop, experts have found out several food items that you should avoid for prevention of and the treatment of kidney stones. Let us find out this list of food items that you can avoid for preventing kidney stones.
Dietary Changes For Kidney Stones Solutions
- Avoid high oxalate food – You should completely avoid any food item that has a high oxalate content. This includes potato chips, peanuts, chocolates, beets, and spinach.
- Limit salt intake – You should avoid any high salt content food since too much sodium can lead to stones.
- Avoid high animal protein – High intake of animal protein such as through dairy products, fish, and meat is associated with the excretion of calcium and decrease in the levels of citrate in the body. This leads to higher risk of kidney stones problems. Also, animal protein is rich in purines. The purines are then broken down into uric acid, which again leads to kidney stones problems. Thus, the intake of animal protein should be limited.
- Eliminate aerated beverages – Cola is very high in phosphate, a chemical that can greatly increase your chances of developing kidney stones. Thus, you should avoid any aerated beverage.
- Limit added sugar – Sugars and syrups are also associated with higher risks of kidney stones problems. Thus, you should avoid any food with added sugar, such as cake, biscuits, chocolates, processed juices etc.
- Avoid alcohol – You should also avoid alcohol as it dehydrates your body, which is a prime cause of kidney stones as well as an obstruction in its treatment.
- Increase water intake – As mentioned previously, hydration is the key to dissolving kidney stones. Drink at least 12 glasses of water in a day to flush out all toxins from your body.
- Increase citrus intake – Citric foods and juices can help in dissolving as well as preventing kidney stones because of the naturally occurring citrate found in them. You can add lemons, orange juice, and grapefruits in your diet.
- Eat lots of Vitamin-D and Calcium – Calcium levels in your body are inversely proportional to oxalate levels. Thus, in order to lower oxalate levels and prevent kidney stones, you should include calcium rich food like yogurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes in your diet.
- Increase magnesium intake – Magnesium may be associated with reducing the absorption of oxalate in your gut. Therefore, it could prevent calcium and oxalate stones from developing in your body. You can include avocados, legumes, and tofu for a magnesium rich diet.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kidney Stones
What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is basically a hard object formed from chemicals in urine. Urine contains many forms of chemical waste and toxins like calcium, urate, oxalate, phosphate, and cystine. When there is too much waste in too little urine, the chemicals begin to attract each other and formulate crystals. These are kidney stones.
How common are kidney stones?
Over 1 million people in India are reported to have kidney stones every year. Thus, it is a very common medical condition. The peak age for developing kidney stones is between 20 and 50 years.
Can any other medical condition increase the chances of kidney stones?
Yes, there are a lot of conditions that may put you at risk of developing kidney stones. High blood pressure, obesity, chronic diarrhea, diabetes, kidney cysts, or osteoporosis are some conditions that are associated with increasing the risk of kidney stones.
What are the symptoms of kidney stones?
The most common kidney stones symptoms are the following:
A. Severe pain in lower abdomen or lower back
B. Blood in urine
C. Nausea or vomiting
D. Fever and chills
E. Cloudy or foul smelling urine
Why does a doctor need to examine the constitution of stones in the body?
There are several types of kidney stones. For giving you the right kidney stones solutions, a doctor must find out the type of stone. This will help them find the cause and also help in preventing more stone formation.
Do kidney stones cause any long term damage?
Kidney stones may increase your chances of developing chronic kidney disease. You are also prone to developing more stones in the future.
Are children also at risk of developing kidney stones?
Kidney stones have been found in children as young as 5 years old. The most common cause for this is dehydration and eating a diet rich in salt. Thus, it is important to take care of the diet of children, as well as ensure they are taking lots of fluid.
How can kidney stones be prevented?
Hydrating yourself sufficiently is the first and the most important step toward preventing kidney stones. You must aim to drink at least 2 to 3 litres of water every day. Besides, you should avoid a high oxalate and a high animal protein diet. You should also reduce your salt intake. It is important to keep yourself healthy and away from obesity too.
Can kidney stones problem be inherited?
Yes, you are highly likely to inherit kidney stones from your ancestors. However, this would invariably mean that you are more prone to stones. These can still be prevented by taking the right measures.
Myths About Kidney Stones
Now that we are well aware of kidney stones, let us bust some common myths about kidneys stones.
- MYTH – Cut down calcium to prevent kidney stones
- BUSTED – As soon as people find out that calcium is one of the most common contents of kidney stones, they begin to believe that they need to remove calcium from their diet to prevent kidney stones. This is far from true. In fact, in certain cases, you may even be asked to increase your calcium intake. This is because if your calcium intake is too low, you are at a high risk of over absorbing oxalate which will eventually lead to the formation of stones.
- MYTH – Once your kidney stones have dissolved, you won’t develop these again.
- BUSTED – Unfortunately, if you have had kidney stones in the past, you are most likely to develop kidney stones again within 10 years. In fact, the chances are 50% higher. Thus, you should try the above measures to prevent stones from developing again.
- MYTH – Medicines can dissolve kidney stones.
- BUSTED – Calcium oxalate stones constitute 80% of kidney stones problems. Some more is contributed by calcium phosphate stones. For these stones, no medicines are available that can dissolve the stones. For the limited patients having small uric acid stones and cystine stones, some medicines might help in dissolving the stones.
- MYTH – Beer helps in passing out kidney stones.
- BUSTED – It is a common notion that since beer causes frequent urination, it helps in passing out kidney stones. However, more than its benefits, the adverse effects are concerning. Beer will increase the composition of oxalate and urate in the urine, thereby putting you at risk of oxalate renal calculi.
- MYTH – Any fluid, including aerated beverages are good for dissolving kidney stones.
- BUSTED – Aerated beverages have high fructose corn syrup, which can not only increase the levels of oxalate but also lead to the excretion of calcium and uric acid. They are also rich in phosphoric acid. This combination is highly likely to cause kidney stones problems.
Kidney stones problem is one of the most common medical conditions across the globe. While you can opt for home remedies and try flushing out the stones, if the symptoms are severe and lasting, you should certainly visit a doctor. With the right kidney stones treatment and natural solutions, you can flush it out of your system and prevent further stones from developing.
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