Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Kidney Stones Treatment?
At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our experienced nephrologists offer a wide range of diagnostic methods and treatment options for patients suffering from kidney stones. Our specialists work with patients to choose a personalized treatment plan that best suits the patient’s condition.
Kidney stone disease, also known as nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis, is a condition that consists of the formation of calculi, made of mineral and acid deposits, commonly referred to as stones, inside the kidneys. Although these stones form inside the kidneys, they eventually leave the body through the urinary tract. If a kidney stone is smaller than 5 millimeters, it can be easily eliminated without causing any symptoms. However, if the stone is bigger than 5 millimeters, its elimination can cause severe pain and even hematuria or vomiting.
Genetics, calcium levels, diet, underlying diseases, dehydration, and other environmental factors can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Kidney stones are by far the most common cause of urinary tract obstruction and affect approximately 1 in every 1000 adults in the United States, accounting for over 2 billion dollars in medical costs per year.
The majority of kidney stone cases resolve on their own without causing any pain. However, a large percentage of people suffering from larger kidney stones will require medication to help eliminate kidney stones and reduce pain.
Some of the most common treatments and drugs for kidney stones are:
Pain medication »
calcium stones »
uric acid stones »
cystine stones »
There are four main types of kidney stones:
Cystine stones »
Calcium stones »
Uric acid stones »
Struvite stones »
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
As a general rule, kidney stones do not cause any noticeable symptoms before they start to migrate out of the kidneys and towards the ureter.
Once they have reached the ureter, patients experience symptoms such as:
- Fluctuating pain
- Painful urination
- Back pain
- Severe abdominal pain
- Brown, pink or red urine
- Urine that smells and looks different
- A constant need to urinate
- Nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills
The symptoms of kidney stones fluctuate in intensity and the pain can change location as the kidney stones move through the urinary tract.
Diagnosis of Kidney Stones
In order to verify the presence of kidney stones, there are several tests and procedures that can be done, such as:
- Blood tests: These tests are effective in diagnosing kidney stones, as they indicate the levels of calcium and uric acid in the blood.
- Urine tests: These tests indicate which substances are present in the urine and details about its consistency.
- Imaging tests: In order to confirm the presence of kidney stones in the urinary tract, doctors might opt for X-rays or CT scans.
- Investigation of the passed stones: In order to find out what is causing the kidney stones, the doctor will need to analyze the stones once they have been eliminated.
Risk Factors for Kidney Stones
There are certain factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing kidney stones, for example:
- Medical history: Your personal medical history, as well as your family’s medical history, are important factors that can influence the development of kidney stones. If you or anyone in your family have had kidney stones, it means that you have an increased risk of developing this condition in the future.
- Dehydration: Not drinking enough water is one of the most common mistakes people make in their everyday lives and unfortunately, the consequences can contribute to developing different types of kidney conditions like kidney stones.
- Unhealthy diets: Diets that are rich in sodium, sugary foods, or proteins can greatly increase the chances of kidney stone formation.
- Obesity: Weight gain has been associated with having an increased risk of kidney stone formation, as it indicates an unhealthy diet and high amounts of harmful substances in the body.
- Gastric disease and surgery: Gastric diseases and surgeries often cause major changes in the digestive processes, thus increasing the risk of kidney conditions.
- Other medical conditions: Those who suffer from certain kidney diseases, hyperparathyroidism, cystinuria, and those who take certain medications can have an increased risk of developing kidney stones.
Causes of Kidney Stones
While there is not a universal cause of kidney stones, there are several factors that have been linked to their formation, such as:
- Dehydration: A lack of water in the body is considered to be one of the main causes of kidney stones.
- High levels of acidity: This is a consequence of dehydration. By not drinking enough water, the body is unable to eliminate the extra uric acid, thus making the urine too acidic.
- Crohn’s disease: Kidney stones are very common in people who suffer from Crohn’s disease because their bodies cannot absorb fat efficiently, which results in high levels of oxalate being deposited in the kidneys.
- Urinary tract infections: This condition has also been associated with the formation of kidney stones.
- Hyperparathyroidism: People who suffer from this disease are very likely to develop kidney stones because their parathyroid glands are unable to control the amount of calcium found in their blood and bones.
- Dent’s disease: One of the main characteristics of this disease is having an excessive amount of calcium in the urine, which leads to the formation of calcium stones.
Considering the fact that kidney stones affect around ten percent of the world’s population, it is natural for people to try to find various ways to treat the symptoms of kidney stones and to try to prevent their formation. However, it is important to mention that these alternative treatments and homemade remedies have not been scientifically confirmed, so it is recommended to consult a doctor before trying any of them.
- Apple cider vinegar: It is thought that apple cider vinegar can accelerate the elimination of kidney stones and can even break them apart.
- Lemon juice and olive oil: By mixing these two ingredients together, you obtain a substance that is thought to have a beneficial effect when dealing with kidney stones.
- Nettles: Drinking a nettle infusion or nettle juice is beneficial, as it flushes the toxins out of your kidneys, discouraging the growth of already present stones and preventing the formation of new ones.
- Pomegranates: A recent study found that the juice extracted from this fruit might prevent the development of kidney stones.
- Kidney beans: According to a certain theory, foods that are similar in color to a certain organ might be beneficial for its health. Thus, consuming kidney beans, which look very similar to the kidneys, might improve their functions and prevent the formation of kidney stones.
One of the most important preventive measures for kidney stones is drinking enough water. Hydration is very important for maintaining the health of the kidneys and protecting them from a wide range of conditions.
Another preventive measure, which applies mostly to people who have already suffered from kidney problems, or have a hereditary inclination towards developing kidney stones, is taking medications as prescribed by a doctor.
Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping weight under control is also helpful when trying to prevent kidney stones. Having a healthy diet implies increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and decreasing the consumption of red meat, salt, and sugar. Another important step in preventing kidney stones is eating foods that are rich in calcium in order to avoid having to take calcium supplements, which are a known cause of kidney stones.
Do you suspect you might have kidney stones? You can always learn more about renal problems and how to treat and cure them by getting in touch with our highly-skilled specialists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.