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Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are small, solid objects made up of chemical crystals and can occur singly or as groups of smaller stones at any one time.

Kidney stones crystallise out of the urine when the urine contains too much of a particular chemical substance, becoming gradually bigger in some cases to form stones. Dehydration, where the urine becomes more concentrated, is a risk factor for these stones.

Further information is available at the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases site and Wikipedia's Kidney Stone page.


Kidney Stones in Kidney

Kidney stones may be little trouble while they remain close to the kidney where they are formed, but start to give problems if they become very large or begin to move down the ureter (tube from the kidney to the bladder) with the flow of urine.

Kidney Stones - Symptoms

Kidney stones may not give any kidney pain symptoms if they remain in situ but when they move into the ureters (the tubes from the kidney to the bladder) they can get stuck, block the urine flow and cause spasm in the ureter. The resulting main kidney stones symptom is pain which can be extremely severe, cramping and described as coming on in waves.

Kidney pain can be referred through as stomach pain, be in the side or low back and be referred round to the groin or into the testicles in men.

Other symptoms kidney stones can produce are nausea and vomiting, fever, blood in the urine or an abnormal colour of the urine.

Cause of Kidney Stones

A person who gets a kidney stone is quite likely to have more in the future. Stones formed from calcium are the most frequent and more frequent in men than women. Uric acid stones can form in people who have gout or who have undergone chemotherapy.

Kidney Stones Treatments

Initial treatment is painkillers (often strong morphine related chemicals are required) and drinking lots of water to help pass the stone out. Drugs may be given to reduce the underlying cause of stone formation once this has been decided.

Surgery may be required if the stone is too big to get out through the urine without help or if it is blocking one of the tubes and restricting urine output. Lithotripsy is a non-surgical method using ultrasound waves to disrupt and break up stones which then pass out naturally. An endoscope may be used to remove stones or open surgery may be required if other techniques don't work or are not appropriate.

Kidney ache in the flank is more often associated with kidney infection and kidney disease may give many symptoms but pain is not a primary one. Lower back pain and several other conditions can refer pain into the area thought of a potentially due to kidney problems so a careful assessment should be made to ensure the correct diagnosis. Kidney pain – alcohol may have unwanted effects on the kidney but again does not seem to generate a pain problem.

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