What Are Kidney Stones? FAQ

Kidney stones—you’ve heard of them before, no doubt that’s exactly why you’re here, but it’s just that you likely don’t have a lot of knowledge about them. We have developed a short FAQ to serve as your initial guide.

What are kidney stones?

Also known as renal lithiasis, these are stone deposits that can develop in different parts of the urinary tract, such as the bladder and the kidney. These are made from certain kinds of minerals like calcium as well as uric acid and oxalates (the typical culprits). They can vary in size, among other things.

Is there just one type of kidney stone?

No, there are four known kidney stone types. The most common is called calcium stones, which can be either calcium oxalate (which is the more usual) or calcium phosphate).

Cystine stones are genetic while stones can also occur when uric acid is very high.

Struvite stones develop along with infections to the kidney. Because there are many different kinds of stones, the degree of pain, symptoms, chances of reoccurrence, and treatments can also vary.

How long does it take for the stones to form?

Based on some medical information, it may take only about 3 months for the kidney stones to form. However, there are times when they can take more months to a year. Usually, you’ll never know that you have them until you start feeling intense pain, especially around the lower extremity beginning at the lower back.

If you have already kidney stones before, it may take around 5 years before new ones begin to form again. The good news is as long as you follow a better diet and lifestyle, as well as work closely with your doctor, you may prevent them from happening again.

Can children develop them?

Yes, children and teens can develop kidney stones despite their young age. Again, as long as the requirements for their development are present, they can definitely happen. The signs and symptoms are not that much different from those of the adults. Over the last few years, the incidence of renal lithiasis among children seems to increase. This may be attributed to the kind of nutrition or lifestyle they are maintaining.

What are the usual signs and symptoms of kidney stones?

Almost all sufferers realize they have kidney stones when they begin to feel pain in the lower part of the back, where the kidneys are. The pain is often described as severe that they cannot perform their daily tasks or activities anymore. Some of them also pass out due to the pain.

Other signs and symptoms are:

  • High fever (which normally occurs during infection)
  • Persistent urge to urinate
  • Urine that smells foul
  • Dark and/or cloudy urine
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Is it possible pass these kidney stones?

Yes, some people do get rid of kidney stones this way, but this can only really happen when the stones are still small. Otherwise, they can just get lodged in the bladder, kidney, and other parts of the urinary tract. As they get bigger, they can lead to the symptoms we mentioned above.

Important Things to Know about Kidney Stones Treatment

As someone who’s concerned about or suffering from kidney stones, it’s always beneficial to be properly educated, especially when it comes to treatments.

Here are some things you should remember:

These treatments don’t offer any guarantees.

One of the most important things to remember when dealing with kidney stones is that there are no guarantees. Just because you’ve gone through an expensive and complex procedure doesn’t have to mean you won’t get any more kidney stones in the future. In fact, around 40% of patients do experience recurrence, but that may be due to a host of factors.

Nevertheless, the treatment is badly needed to ensure that you don’t develop complications from kidney stones including infections and loss of function to the kidneys and the rest of the urinary tract.

You won’t find a definite treatment for kidney stones.

Rather, you have a lot of options available. Nevertheless, the doctor’s decision is based on many things such as the size of the kidney stone, your overall health condition, if it’s an emergency, and the location of the stone, to name a few.

So far, there are three well known treatments, and they don’t require all-out surgery: extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, ureterorenoscopy, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy.

The first one is more ideal when you have stones that are large enough not to pass through urine but still small enough not to totally obstruct the urinary tract. It normally involves the use of a shock wave toward the external part of the body where the stones may be located underneath.

If the stones are developing or lodging in the ureter, the second option is the choice. It uses a special scope that is inserted into the urethra. The stone may be removed using another instrument or by breaking it into tiny pieces by laser.

The last option is best when you have a very large stone that cannot be handled by shock wave or when you’re obese. It is administered at the lower back, where the kidneys are found. The doctor applies a small cut to insert a scope. The stones are removed using another instrument or by breaking it into tiny pieces by laser.

There are medications available.

Sometimes the stones can be very small that they just need a little push to get out of the body through urine. In this case, the doctor may provide you with medications to speed up the process.

You can’t expect to pass the stones immediately.

Some people can get so frustrated with kidney stone treatments because the stones don’t go away in an instant. Well, that’s their nature. Commonly, it takes about 2 to 3 months before all the stones are removed from the body. There are even times when tiny ones still remain, and another kind of treatment may have to be applied.

There are more natural ways to prevent and treat kidney stones.

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet plan is effective not only in managing or preventing hypertension but also in losing weight. Most of all, it’s a great way to reduce or prevent kidney stones and their recurrence.