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Kidney stones and how they affect you

The presence of small or big kidney stones in the body has an effect on the health and overall well-being. Pain, bleeding, obstruction of urine and infection are some of the symptoms a person may go through. Other people may not feel anything at all unless routine tests are performed. Let us take a look at the signs, treatment and prevention of kidney stones in the human body.

Diagnosis

People who experience discomfort or feel pain are examined by the doctor. The practitioner will base questions on symptoms of a renal colic. Hence, a patient will be asked if there is pain in the groin or back area which does not have an obvious cause. A urinalysis may be ordered which will show the presence of blood or pus in the urine whether there are symptoms or not.

The doctor can also recommend further tests such as x-ray or ultrasound to check the abdomen for presence of kidney stones. In other cases, intravenous urography might also be performed. In this diagnostic procedure, a radiopaque dye (visible on x-rays) is injected in the veins where it travels to the kidneys to get a view of the stones. Computed tomography (CT) is still another diagnostic procedure that can be undertaken to detect kidney stones.

Treatment

1. Once diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor will recommend appropriate treatments. In general, small kidney stones which do not cause discomfort or pain are left alone. Drinking lots of fluids is sufficient to wash out the stones through passing urine. If this is not possible, injection of intravenous fluids is done. Pain can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or opiods.

2. It is also possible to break kidney stones in smaller pieces by using ultrasound waves directed at the pelvis. The smaller pieces are then passed in the urine. Smaller stones may also be removed by forceps through an incision on the skin.

3. Another treatment procedure is to use a scope called ureteroscope in the lower part of the ureter. This is inserted in the urethra with access to the bladder. The scope may also be used together with another device to break up stones into smaller pieces and later passed through the urine.

4. Uric acid stones can be dissolved gradually by ingesting potassium citrate taken by mouth from 4 to 6 months. However, not all stones can be dissolved this way.

5. Large kidney stones which are causing an obstruction have to be removed surgically.

Prevention

Prevention of kidney stones in the body is possible depending on the results of analyses and type of stones. Drinking large amounts of water each day (usually 8-10 10 oz. glasses) is highly recommended. Following a diet low in calcium may help as well as taking sodium cellulose phosphate for patients suffering from calcium stone formation. Those with uric acid stones should follow a diet low in meat, fish, and poultry. Potassium citrate is also prescribed to make the urine alkaline.

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