Treatment and Prevention of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can be very small and hard formations of acid salts and minerals that form on the inner surfaces of your kidneys. Normally these materials are diluted in urine, however when urine is concentrated, they can crystallize and solidify into small masses called kidney stones.
While kidney stones cause no permanent damage, passing them can produce excruciating back and abdominal pain as they move from the kidney through the ureters (vessels connecting the kidney to the bladder). Knowing the type of kidney stones that have formed and why they developed is important in preventing the formation of new stones.
Treatment Options in Lafayette, LA
Fluid intake and dietary changes
You may be able to pass kidney stones by drinking plenty of water (up to 2 to 3 quarts (1.9 to 2.8 liters) a day and by remaining physically active. Dietary changes may include adjusting one’s intake of sugar, sodium calcium animal protein, insoluble fiber and vitamin C. Your physician can make recommendations based on the type and cause of your condition.
During the course of passing a kidney stone, your physician may prescribe drugs to reduce or minimize the often time debilitating pain associated with the movement of the stones from the kidney into the bladder.
Kidney stones that can’t be managed or treated with dietary and fluid intake measures, because of their size or because of ongoing urinary tract infections or bleeding, may need more involved approaches. These include:
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)
This common procedure uses ultrasonic shock waves to break the stones into very small particles that can be passed in your urine. Typically, a patient is immersed into a tub of water or lies on a soft cushion for the procedure.
When ESWL is ineffective, or in conditions where a stone is very large, a physician will remove the stone through a small incision in your back using an instrument called a nephroscope.
Ureteroscopic stone removal
When a kidney stone is lodged in the ureters, the stone can be removed with a small instrument called an ureterescope that is passed directly into the ureter through the bladder. Besides physically snaring and removing a stone, the ureteroscope can also be used to direct laser or ultrasonic energy to break up the stone. These methods work well on stones in the lower part of the ureter.
When kidney stones are caused by overactive parathyroid glands, (located on the four corners of your thyroid gland) the cause is most often a small benign tumor in one of the glands. To correct this condition a physician can surgically remove the tumor.
Preventing Kidney Stones
If you’ve experienced kidney stones once, odds are you’ll want to learn how to prevent them from forming again. There are some preventative measures you can take to ensure you don’t experience kidney stone pain again:
- Stay hydrated. Drinking at least 12 – 8 oz glasses of water a day will dilute the mineral concentration in your urine and reduce your risk of developing kidney stones.
- Lower sodium intake. Too much salt in your diet can cause excess calcium in your bloodstream, which increases the chance of developing kidney stones.
- Limit oxalate-rich foods. Chocolate, nuts, spinach, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, wheat germ, and black Indian tea can increase your chances of developing oxalate stones.
- Decrease the amount of animal protein you’re consuming. Too much animal protein can cause uric acid stones.
- Eat foods high in phytate. Certain fiber-rich foods that are high in phytate can prevent calcium from crystallizing, which prevents stones from forming.
- Eat more citrus. Citrus fruits and juices, such as lemon juice, increase the amount of citrate in the urine, which decreases the chance of calcium stones from forming.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases your risk of developing kidney stones.