These amazing images of kidney stones show why you may be in excruciating pain. They are, frankly, self-explanatory.
And the last one. The dark patches are TISSUE gouged from the owner!
How to Prevent Kidney Stones
The best way to prevent most kidney stones is to drink sufficient water. That’s eight to 12 cups of fluid per day. (If you have kidney disease and need to limit fluids, ask your doctor how much fluid you should have each day.)
Limiting sodium and animal protein (meat, eggs) in your diet may also help to prevent kidney stones. If your doctor can find out what your kidney stone is made of, he or she may be able to give you specific dietary recommendations to help prevent future kidney stones.
Never start or stop any treatment or diet without talking to your doctor first!
What’s Your Kidney Stone Made of?
Calcium stones (80 percent of stones)
Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stone. There are two types of calcium stones: calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. Calcium oxalate is by far the most common type of calcium stone. Some people have too much calcium in their urine, raising their risk of calcium stones. Even with normal amounts of calcium in the urine, calcium stones may form for other reasons.
Ian: We’ve been talking about oxalates recently on this blog and we seriously recommend that you take a look at the ‘healthy’ foods you may be consuming that are high in oxalates. You’ll be surprised!
Uric Acid stones (5-10 percent of stones)
Uric acid is a waste product. It comes from chemical changes in the body. Uric acid crystals don’t dissolve well in acidic urine and instead will form a uric acid stone. Having acidic urine may come from:
- Being overweight
- Chronic diarrhea
- Type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar)
- A diet that is high in animal protein and low in fruits and vegetables
Struvite/infection stones (10 percent of stones)
Struvite stones aren't a common type of stone.
They are related to chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs). Some bacteria make the urine less acidic and more basic or alkaline. Magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite) stones form in alkaline urine. These stones are often large, with branches, and they often grow very fast.
People who get chronic UTIs, such as those with long-term tubes in their kidneys or bladders, or people with poor bladder emptying due to neurologic disorders (paralysis, multiple sclerosis, and spina bifida) are at the highest risk for developing these stones.
5 steps for Avoiding Kidney Stones
If you've ever had a kidney stone, you surely remember it.
The pain can be unbearable, coming in waves until the tiny stone passes through your urinary plumbing and out of the body. For many of us, kidney stones aren't a one-time thing: in about 50% of people who have had one, another appears within seven years without preventive measures.
Preventing kidney stones isn't complicated, but it does take some determination.
Kidney stones form when certain chemicals become concentrated enough in the urine to form crystals. The crystals grow into larger masses (stones), which can make their way through the urinary tract. If the stone gets stuck somewhere and blocks the flow of urine, it causes pain.
Most stones occur when calcium combines with oxalate. Stones can also form from uric acid, which is a byproduct of protein metabolism.
Ian: Oxalates again! Have you checked?
1. Calcium isn’t the only electrolyte that influences the formation of kidney stones. For example, by increasing urinary calcium excretion, high dietary sodium may increase the risk of stone formation.
2. Drinking fluoridated tap water may increase the risk of kidney stone formation by a similar mechanism, though further epidemiologic studies are warranted to determine whether fluoride in drinking water is associated with an increased incidence of kidney stones.
3. High dietary intake of potassium appears to reduce the risk of stone formation because potassium promotes the urinary excretion of citrate, an inhibitor of calcium crystal formation.
4. Kidney stones are more likely to develop and to grow larger if a person has low dietary magnesium. Magnesium inhibits stone formation.
Supersaturation of urine
When the urine becomes supersaturated (when the urine solvent contains more solutes than it can hold in solution ) with one or more calculogenic (crystal-forming) substances, a seed crystal may form through the process of nucleation Heterogeneous nucleation (where there is a solid surface present on which a crystal can grow) proceeds more rapidly than homogeneous nucleation (where a crystal must grow in a liquid medium with no such surface), because it requires less energy. Adhering to cells on the surface of a renal papilla, a seed crystal can grow and aggregate into an organized mass.
Depending on the chemical composition of the crystal, the stone-forming process may proceed more rapidly when the urine pH is unusually high or low.
Supersaturation of the urine with respect to a calculogenic compound is pH-dependent. For example, at a pH of 7.0, the solubility of uric acid in urine is 158 mg/100 ml. Reducing the pH to 5.0 decreases the solubility of uric acid to less than 8 mg/100 ml. The formation of uric-acid stones requires a combination of hyperuricosuria (high urine uric-acid levels) and low urine pH; hyperuricosuria alone is not associated with uric-acid stone formation if the urine pH is alkaline.
Supersaturation of the urine is necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for the development of any urinary calculus.
Supersaturation is likely the underlying cause of uric acid and cystine stones, but calcium-based stones (especially calcium oxalate stones) may have a more complex cause.
1. Nausea and Vomiting
Kidney stones make you feel sick to your stomach. But not in the way you normally would from the stomach flu or food poisoning. The pain can be so excruciating that it makes you queasy or even makes you vomit. If the pain is radiating from your right side, these symptoms might lead you to think that your appendix burst even more reason to get checked out.
2. Blood in the Urine
Observing your pee take on a shade of pink or red is alarming. But it actually takes only a little bit of blood to change the colour or urine. Some medications and red foods like beets and rhubarb can have this effect but you should get it checked out no matter what. Blood in the urine could be from a kidney stone or many other problems some serious like kidney, bladder or prostate cancer
3. Cloudy or Foul-Smelling Pee
Urine can change in other ways too. Kidney stones are born out of the crystallization of concentrated minerals in your pee. Concentrated urine is darker, cloudier and stinkier similar to when you're dehydrated. The strong odour is often compared to ammonia, but it's more likely that the smell stems from a urinary tract infection than a kidney stone.
4. Problems with Flow
An obstruction by a kidney stone doesn't only cause pain. It can create a variety of pee problems. As the stone moves further down the urinary tract close to the bladder, you may feel more urgency to go more often and feel pain when you pee. Kidney stones can even be on both sides at once and stop the flow of urine altogether, which, although rare, is a medical emergency.
Ian: It’s my guess that the most common cause of stones is dehydration. Why? Because I already know that dehydration is perhaps the most common problem we have. And sodas, juices etc never hydrate like water. I’ve had my own personal battle with adequate hydration. To begin higher levels of water consumption is often a matter of fighting your own habits.
One suggestion is that you invest in a good water filter. It’s not just that you may actually enjoy the water it produces, but also because you’ve actually invested in the problem. You have ‘skin in the game’, usually in the form of a next-in-kin watching to see if you will get serious or not even after spending money. (Personal experience!)