Also referred to as renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis, kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals that form inside your kidneys. According to the National Kidney Foundation, over half a million people go to the emergency room annually due to problems with kidney stones. An estimated that one in ten people will experience this unpleasant condition in their lifetime.
While these stones are painful, they don’t cause any permanent damage if treated early. So to know if you’re dealing with kidney stones, you’ll need to know what signs to look for. Let’s look at how these stones form, what are the common causes, and what signs you should look for.
Patients in the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, and Greater South Florida areas looking for relief from kidney stones can get help from Drs. Craig Herman and Steven Kester of Urology Center of Florida. We offer the latest technology in diagnostic and treatment options to give you relief from kidney stones and a variety of other conditions.
How do kidney stones form?
Normally, your urine removes waste from your body including small crystals such as calcium, uric acid and oxalate that can be easily diluted and pass through your urinary system. However, when you produce more of these minerals than your urine can manage, the minerals can form kidney stones by sticking together in larger groups. This results in one of four different types of stones: calcium, struvite, uric acid and cystine.
What are the common causes?
These stones can be the result of:
- Family history: you are more likely to get these stones if someone else in your family has dealt with them
- Personal history: if you’ve had kidney stones before, it increases the risk of getting them in the future
- Dehydration: resulting from not drinking enough water, excessive sweat, or a dry climate
- Obesity: being overweight is linked with higher risk of kidney stones
- Diets: if you’re eating lots of salt, protein and sugar, you’re raising your risk of these stones
- Medications: vitamin C, dietary supplements, excessive use of laxatives, and some drugs for migraines and depression can raise your chances of this condition
- Medical conditions: inflammatory bowel disease and chronic diarrhea can affect the way you absorb calcium and water, increasing your risk
These risk factors may lead too little liquid and too much waste. As a result, rather than passing waste substances in your urine, minerals and salts, waste materials you normally pass when you use the bathroom, may clump together and form crystals.
What signs should you look for?
Renal colic is the medical term for kidney stone pain, which can be felt in your belly, back or sides. This pain is a common cause for emergency visits to the hospital.
2. Burning urination
As a stone reaches the area between your ureter and your bladder, you may experience a painful or burning sensation when you urinate. This can be mistaken for a urinary tract infection (UTI), although you can have both an infection and a kidney stone.
3. Urinary urgency
A constant urge to go may indicate that the stone has moved to the lower area of your urinary tract. This can also be mistaken for a UTI.
The medical term for blood in your urine, this can turn your urine pink, red, or brown. The blood may be too small to detect visually, but your urine can be tested.
5. Unusual color or smell
Healthy urine is often clear and has a mild odor, but if you're experiencing cloudy or smelly urine, you may be dealing with kidney stones.
6. Small amounts of urine
If you have a large stone it can create a blockage that makes urine hard to pass, resulting in the flow of urine slowing or stopping altogether. If your urine stops, you need medical attention immediately.
With severe cases of kidney stones, you can also experience chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting, which may also be signs of an infection.
Kidney stones may pass without pain, or they can be excruciating. However you may be dealing with this condition, we’re here to help. If you find yourself dealing with one or many of these symptoms, make an appointment with Drs. Herman, Kester and the Urology Center of Florida today.