Why You Keep Getting Kidney Stones

While your kidneys are a key part of your urinary system, acting as filters and creating urine to be removed from the body, they also perform many other important functions to help keep you healthy. These asymmetrical, bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist, also help regulate blood pressure, control the acid (pH) balance in your blood, create red blood cells, and filter 200 quarts of fluid daily.

All of these important functions are why kidney problems can be potentially dangerous, even if they may not seem to be. Kidney stones (also referred to as urolithiasis, renal calculi, or nephrolithiasis) are dense deposits of salts and minerals formed inside your kidneys that can be caused by several factors. They are generally not permanently damaging, as they can pass on their own. But several things can affect the health risk they pose. Fortunately, treatment options to mitigate the dangers are available.

If you live in the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, or South Florida area and you’re struggling with kidney stones, Drs. Craig Herman and Steven Kester and their medical staff at the Urology Center of Florida can help.

Let's look at some basics about kidney stones, what causes them to recur, and what can be done to prevent and treat them.

Kidney stone basics

Kidney stones are solid, crystalline masses that often develop in your kidneys but can form anywhere in your urinary tract, such as your ureter, bladder, or urethra. There are also different types of kidney stones, such as calcium, uric acid, struvite, and cystine, with each being caused by various things including diet, infection, and certain diseases or genetic disorders.

If you’re dealing with one of these types of stone, common symptoms include hematuria (blood in urine), nausea, vomiting, discolored or foul-smelling urine, fever, chills, frequent urination, and urinating in small amounts when you go.

Why they keep coming back

If you’re dealing with repeated issues with kidney stones, it may be due to not managing the underlying issues that caused them in the first place, and if you’ve had one before, it increases the risk of getting them again in the future. If the cause of your stones was linked to obesity or dietary issues (foods with too much animal protein, high oxalates — compounds found in nuts, fruits, vegetables, and grains — or low calcium) and you don’t make changes to manage the problems, they are likely to come back. Various diseases, including gout, diabetes, hypertension, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and parathyroid disease, can also lead to kidney stones, and, unless they’re treated properly, they can also increase the chances of recurring stones.

Prevention and treatment

Managing the problem varies, depending on the size of the stones and the frequency of recurrence. You can reduce your risk at home by drinking plenty of fluids (especially water and lemon water) and lowering the amount of high oxalate, sodium, and animal proteins in your diet. If you’re struggling with stones, you can try to help pass them by walking, using heat therapy and over the counter pain relievers, and avoiding caffeine to manage any pain they may cause.

There are also many treatment options, like using alphas blockers, fluids and painkillers for smaller stones, and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), ureteroscopy, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy to deal with larger ones.

Kidney stones can be uncomfortable and may happen more than once, but you have options to relieve the pain and remove the deposits that form. If you’re ready for relief from kidney stones and other urological problems, make an appointment with Drs. Herman and Kester and the team at the Urology Center of Florida. Call or send us a message today.

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