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Kidney stones are a prevalent urinary tract issue in Australia, affecting about one out of every 35 women and one out of every 10 men throughout their lives. However, unless you’ve been diagnosed with kidney stones before or are a doctor with experience diagnosing them yourself, it can be challenging to determine if that’s the problem. This article will help you determine if you have kidney stones by detailing the symptoms, as well as explain potential treatment methods and how to prevent them from returning.Kidney Stone Symptoms

One of the telltale signs of kidney stones is pain. However, since pain can be symptomatic of a lot of things, it is important to determine where the pain is located. For kidney stones, pain is usually localized beneath the ribs on the back, otherwise known as renal colic. Pain may also radiate down and around the front of the body towards the groin area and cause painful urination. Depending on the size of your kidney stone you may also find it difficult to urinate.

Urine colour is another tool to determine if you have a kidney stone and may be pink or brown due to the presence of blood in the urine. Other symptoms to watch out for in the toilet include frequent urination, urine with an unusually unpleasant odour and small gravel-like stones in your urine. These symptoms may also be accompanied by classic symptoms of infection, such as fever, chills, nausea and vomiting.Kidney Stone Treatment

If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of a kidney stone, it is important that you contact your doctor right away. Kidney stones can have serious long-term effects if left untreated, such as chronic kidney disease. Kidney stone removal treatment both relieves your symptoms and greatly reduces your risk of suffering from the life-long impact of kidney stones. At your appointment, doctors will administer a series of diagnostic tests, including CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds and blood tests. This is to determine if you have a kidney stone and, if so, what type. There are four types of kidney stones:

  • * Calcium oxalate

  • * Cystine

  • * Struvite/infective

  • * Uric acid

The treatment plan for your stone will depend on which type you have. Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy is a 100% non-invasive procedure that funnels shockwaves to break up the stone. Endoscopic procedures do not require an incision and instead pass a ureteroscope to the stone location and utilize either laser technology or pneumatic fragmentation to eliminate the stone.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy requires a tiny incision made under an X-ray to ensure it is as close to the stone as possible. Then a nephoscope with a camera is inserted and guided to the stone until it is close enough to destroy it. Lastly, there is open stone surgery, an incredibly rare procedure used only on kidney stones that have grown so large and complex they risk causing tissue damage. This procedure is used on less than 1% of patients, another reason to get your stone treated right away.

Kidney Stone Prevention

Unless you’re particularly fond of doctor’s offices, you’re likely looking for tips to prevent this from happening again. One of the easiest ways to aid in the prevention of kidney stones is to simply stay hydrated; according to doctors, you need to drink a minimum of 2 litres of water per day. The less concentrated your urine is with calcium, cystine, oxalate or uric acid, the less your kidneys have to filter and thus you get fewer kidney stones.

Cutting down on how many oxalate and uric acid-rich foods you consume is another way to reduce this concentration. Uric acid is found in animal proteins such as red meat, eggs, poultry and seafood. Okra, spinach, beets, sweet potatoes, nuts and even drinking tea can increase your oxalate levels, so it is best to monitor these foods in your diet.

Another way to take prevention into your own hands at home is to curtail the amount of sodium you consume. Increased sodium directly correlates to an increase in calcium and can exacerbate the formation of kidney stones. Last but certainly not least, it is vital that you follow any instructions given to you by your doctor and schedule regular check-ups to monitor your health.

Kidney stones can be a serious problem, but with prompt diagnosis and expert treatment, your risk of suffering from complications is remarkably lowered. With proper diet and aftercare, both you and your kidneys can live a long, stone-free life.

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