Kidney stones are small, hard deposits of minerals, acid salts, and chemicals that form in the kidneys. Kidney stones are made of calcium, phosphorus, and other substances found in urine.
While kidney stones can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball, they all cause significant pain when they move through the urinary tract. To avoid this painful experience, here is everything you need to know about kidney stones and how to get rid of them.
Causes of Kidney Stones
Many factors, such as genetics, diet, dehydration, and certain medications, can cause kidney stones. People who eat diets high in animal proteins, sodium, processed foods, and refined sugars are more likely to develop kidney stones. Additionally, people who have high levels of calcium in their urine are at an increased risk of developing kidney stones.
The most common symptom of kidney stones is intense pain in the back, side, lower abdomen, or groin. Other symptoms include:
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent urination
- Burning sensation during urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
Certain genetic and lifestyle factors put you at an increased risk of developing kidney stones.
- Age: Kidney stones become more common as you age.
- Sex: Men are more likely to suffer from kidney stones than women.
- Diet: Eating a diet high in animal proteins, sodium, processed foods, and refined sugars increases your risk of developing kidney stones.
- Dehydration: Not drinking enough fluids increases the risk of kidney stones.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as diuretics, can increase the risk of kidney stones.
- Family history: People with a family history of kidney stones are more likely to develop them.
The good news is that there are several ways to manage kidney stones, from prevention measures to treatments that can help eliminate them altogether.
The 4 Best Methods for Getting Rid of Kidney Stones
1. Drinking plenty of fluids
Drinking at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water daily helps flush out the kidneys and reduce the risk of kidney stones. Drinking water also helps reduce the pain associated with passing kidney stones.
2. Dietary changes
Changing your diet can help reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. There are several ways to adjust your daily menu to help you avoid kidney stones.
- Avoiding foods high in oxalates such as dark, leafy greens and beans.
- Limiting sodium intake.
- Increasing your intake of fluids.
Eating a healthy diet low in animal proteins can also reduce your risk of developing kidney stones.
3. Managing medications
Protease inhibitors, antibiotics, diuretics, and other drugs can raise your risk of kidney stone formation. Taking more than the prescribed amount of calcium supplements may also increase risk. Because of this, medication changes may be part of a larger therapy plan developed by your doctor.
4. Procedures to remove kidney stones
Surgery, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, and ureteroscopy can be used to remove large kidney stones.
- Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL): SWL is a non-invasive procedure that breaks down kidney stones into smaller pieces. During this procedure, your doctor uses shock waves to break the stones into small pieces. The smaller pieces can then pass through your urinary tract. SWL is usually an outpatient procedure, and you may receive anesthesia.
- Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy: Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy are procedures used to find and remove larger stones from your urinary tract. During a cystoscopy or a ureteroscopy, your doctor uses a camera on the end of a thin, flexible probe to look inside your urethra and bladder and locate the stone. Once they find the stone, they may remove or break it into smaller pieces. These procedures are typically done in the hospital with anesthesia, and you can usually go home the same day.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is a procedure used to locate and remove stones from the kidney. The doctor uses a camera on a thin cord called a nephroscope, inserted directly into the kidney through a small cut in your back. This procedure is usually done under general anesthesia or with epidural anesthesia.
Lower Your Risk of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can be painful and uncomfortable, but they can be managed and even prevented with the proper treatment. Getting regular checkups to monitor for signs of kidney stones is also essential. Following the tips outlined in this article can reduce your risk of developing kidney stones and help get rid of them if they do form. If you think you may be at risk of developing kidney stones, contact your doctor for a consultation today.
If you have a kidney stone, call us at 843-347-2450 for same-day kidney stone treatment!