Kidney stones, also known as nephrolithiasis, are a painful but common condition for millions of Americans. It’s estimated that 12% of people in the U.S. will develop these stones in their lifetime, and it can affect both men and women, though women suffer from kidney stones less than men.
People often describe their experiences with kidney stones as excruciating. Unfortunately, a kidney stone is not necessarily an isolated incident. If you get a kidney stone, you stand a 35% to 50% chance of getting another within five years.
After a kidney stone, it’s helpful to get a handle on what factors may have caused it. This applies especially if you’ve had more than one, as it’s usually a sign something in your diet or lifestyle needs to change. To ensure you get long-term relief, it helps to target what factors cause your kidney stones in the first place.
Residents of the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, and Greater South Florida areas dealing with kidney stones can get treatment with Drs. Craig Herman, Steven Kester, and the experienced staff at Urology Center of Florida. We offer over 25 years of experience using state of the art diagnostic tools in our onsite lab, to bring you a swift diagnosis for treatment for a variety of urological conditions.
Understanding kidney stones
Your kidneys are designed to remove waste material from your body through your urine, and healthy kidneys control the levels of sodium, potassium, and calcium in your blood. The hard deposits of minerals and salts that make up kidney stones happen when your urine doesn’t dissolve enough of these materials, leaving stones that can affect any part of the urinary system. There are four types of kidney stones:
- Calcium: the most common type, often in the form of calcium oxalate
- Struvite: often in response to a urinary tract infection, these can grow large with few symptoms
- Uric acid: can happen to people who lose too much fluid too quickly, from things like chronic diarrhea, high protein diets, and malabsorption
- Cystine: people with the hereditary disorder cystinuria (a condition where you excrete too much amino acid from your kidneys) are likely to get this type of stone
The type of kidney stones you develop can provide clues to what’s causing them.
Symptoms and causes
With this condition you will experience pain in different ways, including severe sharp pain in your back and sides below your ribs, pain radiating to your lower abdominal area and groin, or a feeling of pain or burning while urinating. Other signs, like pink urine, cloudy or foul smelling urine, a persistent need to urinate, nausea, vomiting, or fever and chills may also be present, depending on the size of the stone or if an infection is present.
There are many risk factors for kidney stones. Some of them are a matter of your weight or diet, especially if you’re dehydrated or your diet is high in protein, salt, or sugar. Certain medications and supplements may also contribute to kidney stone development. Kidney stones may also be more likely to occur alongside conditions that affect your digestive or urinary system.
Reasons for recurring stones
Kidney stones are more likely to recur if you don’t address your personal risk factors, including weight and diet. Not drinking enough water, diets that are low in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and are high in sodium can all lead to multiple kidney stones if changes are not made. Some medications for treating migraines and depression, calcium based antacids, excessive use of laxatives, and even taking vitamin C can increase chances of kidney stones.
Changing medications, increasing your water intake and modifying your diet (more calcium rich food, less salt, oxalates, and animal proteins) are simple ways to lower your chances of getting kidney stones in the future. In many cases, simple lifestyle changes can make a major difference. However, it’s important to rule out more serious conditions as the cause.
If you deal with this painful condition once, we can help you avoid dealing with it again. If you’re in pain from kidney stones and need help, contact Drs. Herman, Kester, and Urology Center of Florida today to get relief.