Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Complications, and Removal

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What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones, as the name itself suggests, are stones that form in the kidneys and can be as tiny as a speck of dust, or as big as the size of a tennis ball. Apart from the kidneys, the stones can also form anywhere along the urinary tract which includes the ureter, bladder, and urethra.

What are the causes of kidney stones or how do kidney stones occur?

After your body absorbs the nutrition it needs, the remaining waste products travel through the bloodstream to the kidneys. The waste products get removed from your body through urine. When there is too much of waste and too less liquid in the urine, crystals begin to form which stick together and form solid masses or kidney stones. The reasons of kidney stones forming in the body varies.

There are four main types of kidney stones:

  • Calcium Stones: Calcium stones are the most common form of kidney stones. They are formed when there is too much calcium in the urine. They may form due to an overactive parathyroid gland, an inherited condition called hypercalciuria, kidney disease, some cancers, or a condition called sarcoidosis.
  • Struvite Stones: These are horn-shaped and can grow quite large. They are usually caused by urinary tract infection.
  • Uric Acid Stones: Uric acid stones are softer than other types of kidney stones. They may occur due to a high-protein low-fibre diet. Patients suffering from gout are found to be at a higher risk to get uric acid stones.
  • Cystine Stones: They are caused by a rare hereditary disorder called cystinuria. Cystine stones are larger than other forms of kidney stones and tend to recur.

In about 85% of the cases, small kidney stones (<5 mm) pass out in the urine without medical intervention. Stones bigger than 5 mm may require medical intervention. Stones as small as 2 mm have been know to cause discomforting symptoms.

If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms of kidney stones, you should immediately consult your family doctor or a general physician, who in turn may refer you to a urologist if a kidney stone is suspected.

Who is prone to kidney stones?

Some people are at a higher risk of developing kidney stones. They include:

  • people who do not drink enough water everyday (around 8 glasses per day)
  • people with a family history of kidney stones
  • people bed-bound due to illness
  • people who lead a sedentary lifestyle
  • people suffering from obesity
  • people suffering from frequent urinary and kidney infections
  • people who eat a high-protein diet and low-fibre diet
  • people who consume of excessive sodium (salt)
  • people with active medical conditions such as Crohn's disease , gout, renal tubular acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, medullary sponge kidney, type 2 diabetes, and Dent's disease
  • people who excessively consume supplements such as calcium and vitamin C

What are the symptoms of kidney stones? How are kidney stones diagnosed?

The common symptoms of kidney stones in men and women include:

  • Foul smelling urine
  • Discoloured urine: pink, red, brown urine or blood in the urine
  • Frequent and urgent need to urinate
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shifting pain in the lower abdomen and groin
  • Varying intensity of pain that comes and goes

Although the exact causes leading to the formation of the stones have not been established yet, a number of factors have been identified which increases the risk of kidney stones.

Diagnosis

After getting to know your symptoms, medical history and after a complete examination, the urologist will suggest tests to confirm the diagnosis of kidney stones. The tests may include:

  • A computerised tomography (CT) scan: where computerized low-intensity X-Ray images are taken from different angles and analysed.
  • X-ray: which uses a low dose of electromagnetic radiation to accurately create images of the internal structures of your body. Radiolucent stones such as Cystine or uric acid stones may not be identified with this test.
  • Ultrasound scan: Images of the internal structures of your body are recreated using high-frequency sound waves.
  • Intravenous urogram (IVU) or intravenous pyelogram (IVP): In this procedure, a radio-opaque dye is injected through a vein in your arm. This dye highlights the presence of the stones on an X-ray. The dye later passes out of your body in the urine. It is advised that you inform the doctor about all your current medicines and allergies before undergoing this procedure. Before administering the dye though, your urologist will make sure that you are not allergic to it.

What are the complications of kidney stones?

Complications of kidney stones include:

  • recurring kidney stones, since people who have had kidney stones at least once, have 80 % chance of getting them again.
  • obstruction or blockage in the urinary tract
  • kidney failure
  • sepsis, which can occur after the treatment of a large kidney stone
  • an injury to the ureter while undergoing a surgery for the removal of the kidney stone
  • urinary tract infection
  • severe pain
  • heavy bleeding during kidney stones operation

What is the treatment for kidney stones?

The following treatments and procedures are available to manage kidney stones:

  • Diet: Your doctor/dietician may prescribe you with a modified diet.
  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medicines which can dissolve certain types of kidney stones. (ex. kidney stones formed of calcium or uric acid can be treated with medicines.)
    Other medicines are also prescribed to relieve the symptoms of kidney stones which include:
    • pain medicines
    • muscles relaxants which assist the stones to pass through
    • antibiotics to manage any infection
    • Other medications to manage the underlying disease that is causing the kidney stone
  • Procedures
    Surgical procedures to remove kidney stones include:

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Would you like to consult a doctor for Kidney Stones ?

Patient Experiences

Subhadip Ghosh
About Lithotripsy
About Lithotripsy : As it is with all clinical matter today, you got to be very careful when you choose some treatment. I had a very bad experience with one of the lithotripsy centre in Bangalore (Hitech Kidney Stone Centre), the process was done without presence of any urologist and with an out dated bad Lithotripter. My stone was of 9mm and after two sitting of the lithotripsy there was no change in size, but that pushed the stone in a very uncomfortable position. But the person who was doing the procedure kept on telling its broken (basically he was lying). And then I went to Matoshree for another Lithotripsy and felt the difference. This time Dr Rajeev Bashetty, who is a renowned urologist, himself did the procedure and with great care and the machine they are using is world-class. The process was much easier, very less pain than the previous one. And as a result the Stone was broken into a 4 mm stone in the only sitting he had done. To Compare more, the first clinic I visited, he just started the machine and was on his own playing with mobiles and doing other stuffs around, but here Dr Rajeev kept his eye on the monitor throughout the process and adjusting the lithotripter when and it was needed. The only time he had to go out of the treatment room he stopped the machine and came back in a minute. I found them extremely professional and caring. Last but not the least, Matoshree still don’t have the collaboration with insurance, but most of the insurance companies has post procedure coverage facility and you can always do that as Matoshree provides all the required document after your procedure. ...Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Rajeev Bashetty
Matoshree Kidney Stone Center
Boma Donatus
Multiple Kidney Stones
I am Mr. Boma Donatus 59 years old and a citizen of Cameroon - based in Central Africa. I have been suffering from Multiple Kidney Stones for the past Six years and since I did not want operation in my country which was the only option to remove my stone, I decided to seek for an alternative therapy from India. I arrived India and after going to the Fortis Hospital was informed that my treatment had to cost USD 8000 which I did not have and seace the doctor at fortis informed Mr my stones were not life threatening, I decided to pursue an alternative means of treatment I had been reading about called Ayurvedic medicine for which Indian has been reawed worldwide. My search for an Ayurvedic doctor fellon Dr Laxman Jonwal who was quick to receive me and listened to my story. He explained detail to me what his NAP Therapy- An Advance Pachkarm therapy was and what it could do to my body. In just 7 days of treatment I got excellent result. My full body is transform. Am feeling Stronger, Lighter & Energetic. I am taking a all medicines with me & having a 100% faith that I will get result. Thanks to Dr. Laxman & Dr. Sunita Jonwal & there staff too. They make me feel like my family. Thank you so much. I will recommend every sick patient to consult with Dr. Jonwal. You will not be disappointed.☺...Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Laxman G. Jonwal
DrJonwal's Niramay Ayush Panchkarm Health Institute & Research Hospital
Prashant Kalantri
Recurring Kidney Stones
I had recurring kidney stone problem and had undergone the surgery to remove the stone. I was also diagnosed with increased Uric Acid levels and was under medication from long time. Then I Visited Dr. Preeti Deshmukh for both the above problems, she kept me on Ayurvedic Medications for around six months and due to which all of the existing stones came out in Natural way. An I did not had any new stone formed from last 2.5 years. The Uric Acid levels are also under control and I am not taking any medications now. I would Strongly Recommend Dr. Preeti for accurate diagnosis and genuine medications. Its because of her efforts the chronic disease like Kidney Stone is cured completely. ...Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Priti Mangesh Deshmukh
Pranav Ayurveda Chikitsalaya

Questions answered by trusted doctors

Verified User
What size of kidney stone can be removed without operation. has stone in both left and right kidney.
Dr. Sunilkumar Vora
Ayurveda, Pune
Hello,
We have Ayurvedic medicine for your problem.
No need for patients to get admitted and no operation or surgery required.
You can contact me online or offline for any questions or medication
You can visit my website
www.drvoraclinic.in
Tc
Dr. Chethan R S
General Physician, Bangalore
Hi, The smaller the kidney stone, the more likely it will pass on its own. If it is smaller than 5 mm (1/5 inch), there is a 90% chance it will pass without further intervention. Consult urologist...
Verified User
Hello i have stone my both kidney left kidney has 4mm and right kidney has 4.2 mm stone what i will do?
Dr. Sunilkumar Vora
Ayurveda, Pune
Hello,
We have Ayurvedic medicine for your problem.
No need for patients to get admitted and no operation or surgery required.
You can contact me online or offline for any questions or medication.
You can visit my website
www.drvoraclinic.in
Tc
Dr. B K Madhusudan
Homeopath, Bangalore
Hi Renal stones or kidney stones are mostly composed of calcium & oxalate. Avoid eating oxalate rich vegetables like cabbages, cauliflower & tomatoes. Drink more fluids You can consult a homoeopath, who can help you get rid of the problem
Dr. Anil Kumar Jain
General Physician, Bangalore
Hello there.

You need to avoid certain foods that are stone causing like foods containing oxalate like tomatoes, calcium rich foods etc.
Drink lots and lots of water so that the stone gets drained away in urine.
Consult a surgeon for further help.
Regards

Verified User
I have a stone in my left side kidney,some times i get pain a lot ,my stone size is 3.1mm can I get suggestion
Dr. Parth Sudhir Mahajan
Ayurveda, South Goa
Do not worry it's a small one. Eat following medicines and drink plenty of water . repeat USG again after 30 days. 1. Tab. Neeri 2 tablets before lunch and dinner. 20 mins before. 2. Punarnavasava 20ml after lunch and dinner . 20 mins. 3. Tab. Stonvil 1 after lunch and dinner. Or chandraprabhavati 2 before lunch and dinner. You must drink plenty of water .
Ask health queries and get free answers from doctors in 24 hrs

Did you know?

One tenth of the population suffers from kidney stones

One out of every ten people will suffer from kidney stones in their life.

Kidney stone belt

The kidney stone belt region of world is located in countries of Middle East, North Africa, and Mediterranean region, North Western States of India, Southern States of United States of America and areas around the Great Lakes.

Prevalence of kidney stones in India

The prevalence of kidney stones in India is 15 % and approximately 5 to 7 million patients are suffering from this painful disease and related kidney problems. The occurrence of disease is high in the northern, north western and central part.

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Home Remedies

Increase Intake Of Water

Strive to take at least 12 glasses of water everyday instead of the usual eight glasses. Dehydration is one of the foremost causes of kidney stones. Drinking water will not only help to remove kidney stones from your system but will also prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Drink Lemon Juice

While drinking water you can add freshly squeezed lemons to your water as often as you like. Lemons contain citrate, which prevent calcium stones from forming. Citrate can also help break up small stones, enabling them to pass out from the body while urinating.

Drink Basil Tea or Juice

Basil contains acetic acid, which can break down kidney stones. Basil also lowers uric acid levels, which in turn reduces the risk for future stones. You can add fresh or dried basil leaves to make a tea or you can make fresh basil juice and drink two to three glasses everyday.

Take Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains citric acid which helps to dissolve kidney stones. Apple cider vinegar can prevent the urine from turning acidic and prevent the formation of new stones. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 6–8 ounces of purified water. Drink this water throughout the day.

Take Pomegranates

Pomegranate juice can help flush out stones and toxins from your system. It can also improve the health of your kidneys. It lowers your acid levels which can prevent kidney stones from recurring in future. It also lowers your urine’s acidity level. Lower acidity levels reduce your risk for future kidney stones.
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