A healthy kidney filters excess chemicals and waste from your bloodstream. Once filtered out, these unused products travel to your bladder to be eliminated as urine. If these chemicals crystallize and build up in the kidney, they can form kidney stones.
Stones can stay in the kidney or move into the urinary tract. Symptoms and treatment vary depending upon the location, size, shape and chemical composition of the stone.
Some stones may be "silent" and cause no symptoms while forming. However, once they move into your urinary tract, they are often accompanied by sudden and severe pain in back, side and/or groin, blood in the urine, fever, nausea, and frequent and/or burning urination.
If you suspect you might have kidney stones, see your doctor right away.
Treatment for Kidney Stones
Expectant therapy: Most kidney stones are small enough to pass through the urinary tract system without medical treatment. Drinking 10 to 12 glasses of water a day will help to "flush out" the stone.
Medications: A few types of stones may be dissolved by medications. Medication is most helpful in preventing further stones from forming. Be sure to take your medication exactly as prescribed.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): High-energy shock waves are used to break the stone into sand-like particles, which can then pass easily through the urinary tract.
Surgery: If surgery is necessary to remove the stones, your doctor will review the method and risks involved.
There are some actions you can take to help prevent your body from forming kidney stones. These include:
• Drinking 10 glasses of water each day.
• Limiting dehydrating liquids, such as coffee, tea, and alcohol.
• Follow the diet prescribed by your doctor. You may need to limit dairy products, colas, chocolates, nuts, organ meats, anchovies, and fish.
• Take all medications prescribed by your doctor, even if your symptoms have disappeared.
You are at increased risk of developing kidney stones if you meet the following conditions
• Have previously suffered from kidney stones
• Have a family history of kidney stones
• Are a man, between the ages of 30 and 50
• Eat a diet high in calcium and oxalate foods
• Have had a kidney infection in the last few months