Urolithiasis is a medical condition that involves the formation of stony concretions called kidney stones, urinary stones, or urinary caliculi in the urinary bladder or urinary tract.
As per CRC Press, urolithiasis affects 7% of women and 12% of men and it is affirmed that the figures are rising at present. In addition, people who had resolved cases may experience recurrence, which has 50% chance within the first five years, following initial diagnosis.
Kidney stones start from a small piece of crystal in the kidney, according to Web MD. As urine exits the kidneys, the crystals are carried out; otherwise, they may remain in the kidneys. Overtime, the crystals in the kidney will accumulate and form larger kidney stones.
Most kidney stones leave the kidney and move through the urinary tract. Very kidney stones may easily leave the body, presenting no notable symptoms. However, larger stones that have formed may get stuck in the urinary tubes called the ureters, causing pain and blocking urine from flowing to the bladder and out of the body.
According to Web MD, the common signs and symptoms of kidney stones include sudden to severe pain that becomes progressive. The pain is felt in the side and back, under the ribs. It may radiate to the lower abdominal region and to the groin area. Pain may also come in waves and vary in intensity. Generally, the pain worsens over 15 to 60 minutes until it becomes severe. Pain may also subside if the kidney stone no longer obstructs the ureters and when it passes into the urinary bladder
Aside from pain, a person with kidney stones may experience a change in color in his urine. Typically, the color is expected to be pink, red, or brown, due to the abrasions caused by the kidney stones to the linings of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, or urethra. Urine may also appear cloudy and have a foul smell. Frequency of urination is also affected, from scanty or small amounts of urine or oliguria, to increased urination frequency or polyuria.
Kidney stones may also produce gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting, and hematuria or presence of blood in the urine. The condition may present no symptoms at all, if the stone is small.
According to Mayo Clinic, kidney stone treatment typically involves increase in fluid intake, consumption of medications like pain relievers or alpha blockers, using soundwaves called lithotripsy to break up stones, surgical procedures to remove the stones, and parathyroid gland surgery to reduce the likelihood of stone formation.
While the presence of urinary stones is bothersome, these stones can be prevented from forming.
According to Web MD, increasing one’s oral fluid intake is crucial in the prevention of urine stone formation. It is suggested to drink adequate amounts of water, about 8 to 10 glasses of water, to keep the urine light yellow or clear like water. Having an extra glass of water a day also helps to gradually increase the amount of water one consumes. While increasing fluid intake helps prevent the formation of kidney stones, people with heart, kidney, or liver disease and have fluid restrictions should consult their doctor prior to increasing the amount of fluids to be consumed.
Aside from fluid intake, diet also plays a key role in the prevention of kidney stones. According to Mayo Clinic, one should consume foods that are low in salt and oxalate, since they contribute to the formation of urinary stones. Calcium-rich foods may be eaten; however, there should be caution with taking calcium supplements, as these have been associated to higher risk of kidney stone formation.
Overall, kidney stones form due to accumulated crystals in the urinary tract and they cause problems if they remained unresolved. Thus, it is important to adjust one’s fluid intake and diet plan to prevent the problem. Also, coordination with one’s medical doctor is necessary in the management of the condition.