Kidney Stones

Have you ever had a kidney stone? Many people claim the pain of kidney stones is on the same playing field as childbirth. What causes kidney stones to develop and what are they? 

Kidney stones are formed by an imbalance of salts and electrolytes in your urine. If the salts are too concentrated, it will form a clump, “stone”. They begin very small but can grow even larger as time passes. There are four different types of major kidney stones to take note of: cystine, uric acid, calcium phosphate/oxalate, and struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate). Commonly, dehydration is a cause of kidney stone formation. Keeping your body hydrated can significantly reduce the likelihood of kidney stones recurrence. Additionally, genetics can play a role. About 25 percent of kidney stone patients usually have a family history of kidney stones. Surprisingly enough, stress also plays a role. Paired with dehydration, stress can have a large impact on kidney stone formation. Lastly, it is crucial to monitor diet. A high level of protein, phosphates, oxalates, or other minerals in your diet can higher the risk of uric acid kidney stones. 

Symptoms for kidney stones typically last for a few days or can continue for a couple of weeks. Here are some kidney stone symptoms to look out for: 

  • pain in the back, belly or side

  • pain or burning during urination

  • urgency to use the restroom

  • smelly, cloudy, or bloody urine

When noticing these symptoms, the first thing you need to do is drink as much water as possible to flush out your system, preferably up to 2 or 3 quarts. In order to minimize pain, you can take pain relievers such as ibuprofen or advil to lessen the symptoms. Even if your kidney stones are small, they can be extremely agonizing. If generic painkillers are not sufficient, you should call your doctor to inquire about specific medication for kidney stones.

In terms of a solution, there are multiple kidney stone treatment options. For minor kidney stones, medication, lots of water, and painkillers will suffice. In some instances however, kidney stones are too large and painful to be passed on your own. In these situations, doctors are able to provide surgery and other removal processes. Here are a few: 

  1. Shock wave lithotripsy: Shock wave lithotripsy uses shock waves to break up kidney stones into small pieces so that they are easier to pass. 

  2. Ureteroscopy: This is done under general anesthesia. The doctor uses a long tool shaped like a tube to find and remove the stone, or to find the stone and break it into pieces. They pass the thin lighted tube (the ureteroscope) with a camera attached through your urethra and bladder to get to the stones.

  3. Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: This procedure involves surgically removing a kidney stone with a small telescopes and other instruments through a small incision in your back.

At Athens Area Urology, doctors formulate a plan to knock out your specific kidney stones. There are many different types of kidney stones, so Athens Area Urology works hard to find the right treatment for your situation.