Kidney Stones Symptoms and Treatment

Kidney stones

Kidney stones can occur when waste products fail to be fully expelled by healthy kidneys during urination; these remain in the bloodstream, forming solid lumps within the kidney. Kidney stones vary in size and can either remain in the kidney without issue, or painfully move through the bladder, urethra and ureters (the 2 tubes which transfer urine from the kidneys to the bladder).

Kidney stones fall into 4 different classifications: Calcium stones (most common, caused by built-up excess calcium), Cystine stones (rare, caused by the hereditary disease Cystinuria), Struvite stones (most common in women, made of ammonia, usually follow chronic UTIs) and Uric acid stones (commonly follows chemotherapy, caused by excess uric acid within the urine).

There are numerous reasons for being susceptible to kidney stones; as well as simply being aged between 20 and 70, male or overweight, diets low in fibre or fluid, diets high in protein or salt, historical cases within the family, long-term immobility and the use of specific medication can each increase a person’s susceptibility  (and their recurrence).

Kidney Stones
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Kidney stone symptoms

Larger kidney stones can sometimes become lodged in the kidney or urinary tract (bladder, urethra, ureters), causing intense cramps in the lower back or side, which typically spread throughout the abdomen, genitalia or groin; sufferers can experience bloody or cloudy urine, fever, increased regularity in needing to use the toilet and sickness or vomiting.


The path to diagnose the condition typically involves a consultation regarding patient symptoms, scans of the kidneys and urinary tract and the taking of a urine sample. Although typically passed independently during urination, they can become lodged within the urinary tract; this can be painful and removal often requires medical intervention.

Kidney stone treatment

Options are available to those requiring medical intervention and/or pain management (and any associated infection). As well as the proven but invasive option of surgery, ESWL (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy) can use shock waves to shatter stones; urologists can then administer local anaesthetic and extract fragments via the urethra.

With a 50% likelihood of lumps recurring within a decade, sufferers (past and present) can reduce this risk by simply amending their diet; as well as drinking 2 litres of water (or other fluid) on a daily basis, risk is also lowered by consuming fewer than 16 ounces of meat and less than a teaspoon of salt per day. Urine (and urination) can be gauged to assess the impact of a diet.

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