Kidney Stone Symptoms

Kidney stones are a common medical problem. When diagnosed early, they can be treated without significant residual damage. That is why it is important to know about their symptoms, but when in doubt, immediate medical advice must be sought at once.
Kidney Stone Symptoms
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Kidney Stones: An overview

Most kidney stones can exist silently without any symptom for pretty long periods, but when they do lead to symptoms, it is one of the worst experiences of one's life.

Most kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate, but it could be made of other salts too. In Gout the stones are made of uric acid, while in cystinuria stones consist of cystine. Calcium oxalate stones are more common with a calcium deficient diet, because in the absence of calcium in the intestines, more oxalate gets absorbed and its excretion leads to calcium oxalate stones in kidneys.

Kidney stones

are formed inside the body of kidney by gradual precipitation and deposition of certain salts that are present in blood in very small fractions but which are actively separated from blood by the kidney and excreted in urine. These precipitates start getting deposited at some point within kidney, and gradually grow in size - a process that may take from a few months to a few decades. They may remain silent for years, but when they grow big enough to start putting pressure on the kidney tissue then they produce an aching sensation in the loin area, more pronounced on the back. This aching sensation is mild to moderate in severity and can be either intermittent or continuous.

Symptoms of Kidney Stone

The more dramatic and characteristic symptoms of kidney stones are actually produced when the stone, or a part of it, gets detached from the point of its attachment in the kidney and moves in to the ureter or further down. At this point it usually leads to very severe excruciating pain, often described by the sufferer as 'the worst pain of his life'. Typically the site of the pain moves from 'loin to groin' reflecting the movement of the stone downwards. Usually this pain is associated with difficulties in urination, increased frequency and sometimes blood in urine that results from the irritation and damage caused by the passing stone.

The worst pain is felt when the stone gets lodged in the junction of ureter and urinary bladder and blocks it. Ureter carries urine in to the urinary bladder, and its blockage can lead to accumulation of urine in ureters and their dilation. If the blockage persists, a backward pressure on kidney

is also exerted, which not only worsens the pain but can damage some of the kidney functions. This pain is extremely difficult to tolerate, and the person suffering may find it difficult to remain either silent or in one position.

In cases of long standing stones, the picture can become complicated by the existence of infection, which may cause fever, burning sensation in urinary tract and sometimes even pus in urine. As the stones or precipitated salt finally passes through, the patient may also complain of 'sand in urine'.

In some cases, the severe kidney pain is also associated with vomiting and heartburn, which can make the diagnosis difficult. This arises because of the common origin of kidney and intestines and their common nerve supply. The signals arising from kidney get referred to the intestines and lead to vomiting and abdominal pain.

Confirmatory diagnostic tests in suspected Kidney Stones

The symptoms of kidney stone are usually severe and typical but sometimes they too can be confused with other diseases. Every case of suspected kidney stone needs to be confirmed by further Lab tests like X-rays, Ultrasonography and CT or other scans of abdomen. Urine and blood testing is mandatory to get the complete picture and clues about infection.

Most kidney stones create the greatest problem while they are passing out. While a part of stone may have passed out, the original stone may continue to exist and grow within the kidney, and lead to a recurrence of pain when another part of it gets separated and again passes out of the body. Hence in every case of kidney stone, it is preferable to investigate thoroughly and treat the underlying stone even if the pain has disappeared and the patient appears fine. Removal of remaining stones by lithotripsy is generally the treatment of choice, and prevents future recurrence of symptoms. Even after lithotripsy, it is advisable to get lab tests like ultrasonography done at regular intervals to ensure that no fresh stone is getting formed in the kidney.

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