1 out of 10 adults will suffer from urinary tract stones at some point in their life. Men need to be aware of this potentially painful condition because they are 3 times more likely to develop a urinary stone. Everybody should pay more attention to urinary stones because they are becoming common. The lousy diet many people eat and the growing incidence of obesity are putting more and more people at risk of developing this painful disease. The risk is greatly increased if you are between 30 and 50 years old or if you had a urinary stone in the past. These stones come in a variety of sizes.
What Causes Urinary Stones?
Urinary stones are made of minerals in the urine that form into crystals. The most common stones are composed of calcium. These stonesmay move through your urinary tract or just stay in one place and grow, no matter which condition it is, you will suffer from pain. But what causes urinary stones?
- The stones form because the urine lacks the chemicals that prevent this formation or contains too much salt.
- Another kind of urinary stone, called a Struvite stone, can form in persons who are suffering from urinary tract infections.
- Some health problems, including dehydration and hyperthyroidism, can make a person more susceptible to the stones.
- Persons who eat a lot of meat and Vitamin C are more likely to develop urinary stones.
- Those who have had bariatric or weight loss surgery are also more susceptible to this problem.
How Do I Know If I Have Urinary Stones?
The most common sign of urinary tract stones is pain. Such stones can cause back pain, renal pain, or pain in the lower abdomen. People may even experience pain in the genitals. The pain is usually excruciating and intermittent.
There are some other symptoms, including vomiting, restlessness, insomnia, nausea, and blood or stones in the urine. The victim might also suffer from frequent urination, pain during urination, chills, fever and abdominal swelling.
How Are Urinary Stones Treated?
Urinary stones cause so much pain, so treatment must be sought out to get relief:
1. Give It Time
Small urinary tract stones will usually pass on their own after a few days. Doctors may prescribe pain relievers to help a person get through this process. Drinking plenty of fluids can help a stone pass.
- Alpha-adrenergic blocking drugs such as tamsulosin can help a stone pass. Such medications are only used with a prescription.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs and opioids are sometimes prescribed for pain.
- A doctor may have a patient take potassium citrate tablets for 4 to 6 months. This can make the urine more alkaline, which can dissolve the stones.
3. Endoscopic Surgery
A special device called an endoscope, ureroscope, or cystoscope is inserted into the body. The device contains a camera that lets the doctor see what is happening in the body. It can be used to remove stones or to break them up.
4. Shock Wave Lithotripsy
In this procedure, a doctor uses a special device called a sound wave generator to break the stones into pieces. If it works, the stones will be passed in the urine. Lasers may also be used to break up the stone. The surgeon might use an endoscope to make sure the stone has been broken up.
Larger stones that are causing serious blockages are removed via surgery. The most common procedure is percutaneous nephrolithotomy in which a surgeon makes a small incision in a person’s back. The surgeon then inserts a device called a nephroscope to view the stone and remove it or break it up. In a few cases, traditional surgery in which the abdomen is cut open might also be employed. Endoscopic surgery is often used to remove struvite stones.
How to Prevent Urinary Stones
Urinary stone is preventable and you can lower your risk by following the suggestions below:
1. Drink Enough Water
If you have had a urinary stone, you need to drink a lot of water to urinate frequently. You can tell if you are drinking enough water if your urine is light and clear. The average person should drink 8 glasses of water every day.
2. Avoid Certain Foods
Oxalate-rich foods such as okra, spinach, beets, kale, Swiss chard, rhubarb, soy products, nuts, tea and chocolate can make the formation of urinary stones more likely. Eating large amounts of salt and meat can also cause the stones to form.
3. Get Sufficient Amounts of Calcium
Continue eating calcium-rich foods such as dairy products unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements because these can increase the risk of kidney stones.
4. Take Medications
Your doctor might prescribe a drug that can control the amount of minerals or acids in your urine. The kind of drug prescribed will be determined by which kind of stone is likely to form in your urinary tract.