Kidney stones, or nephrolithiasis, are characterized by mineral, chemical, and salt deposits building up inside the kidneys and forming stones that block urine flow. There are four types of kidney stones: calcium oxalate stones, uric acid stones, struvite stones, and cystine stones. Kidney stones involve excruciating side/lower back pain and can range from the size of a grain of sand to the size of a golf ball. Kidney stones often travel from the kidneys to the bladder and can typically be excreted from the urine after a period of days to weeks.
Kidney stones are caused by small crystalline buildup in the kidneys that is typically associated with low fluid intake. These crystals clump together and form a stone that may partially or fully block the passage of urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Risk factors for kidney stones include a high-protein and low fiber diet, sedentary lifestyle, previous history or family history of kidney stones, previous kidney infections/UTIs, obesity, dehydration/little water intake, certain medications and supplements, weight loss surgery, high sodium or high sugar diet, dehydration, and/or certain medical conditions such as polycystic kidney disease.
Symptoms of kidney stones include:
Low back/flank pain
Pain/burning with urination
Nausea and vomiting
The most preferable treatment option for kidney stones is to let them pass on their own while treating symptoms with over-the-counter medications. In some cases, other medications may be prescribed by a healthcare professional. It is always important to drink plenty of water when undergoing kidney stone treatment. In severe cases, surgery such as shockwave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, and/or percutaneous nephrolithotomy may be required.
To prevent kidney stones, it is important to drink plenty of water every day, preferably approximately 64 ounces per day. Is also important to limit sodium intake, maintain a healthy weight, take all prescribed medications, and eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and low in oxalate, salt, and animal protein. It is always a good idea to see a doctor on a regular basis.
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