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Kidney stones - (renal lithiasis)
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Kidney stones - (renal lithiasis)

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Urinary System

Kidney stones are stones formed from chemicals in urine that crystallize and stick together. Some cause problems, and others we may never know they're there.

If you've ever passed a kidney stone, you're not likely to forget the experience - it can be excruciatingly painful. What's more, kidney stones (renal lithiasis) are increasingly common.

Not all kidney stones cause symptoms. They're often discovered when you have X-rays for an unrelated condition or when you seek medical care for problems such as blood in your urine or recurring urinary tract infections. The pain becomes agonizing only when a stone breaks loose and begins to work its way down from your kidneys to your bladder.

Kidney stones usually form when your urine becomes too concentrated. This causes minerals and other substances in urine to form crystals on the inner surfaces of your kidneys. Over time, these crystals may combine to form a small, hard mass, or stone.

Prevention

In many cases, you can prevent kidney stones by making a few lifestyle changes. If these measures aren't effective and blood and urine tests reveal you're currently forming stones or the stones you have are getting bigger, your doctor may prescribe certain medications.

Lifestyle changes
For people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend passing at least 2 1/2 quarts of urine a day. To do this, you'll need to drink about 3 1/2 quarts (14 cups) of fluids every day — and even more if you live in a hot, dry climate. Although most liquids count, water is best.

In addition, if you tend to form calcium stones — a combination of calcium and oxalate — your doctor may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalates. These include meats — especially organ meats, such as liver and kidneys — chicken, fish such as herring and anchovies, and asparagus, berries, chocolate, cooked spinach, Swiss chard and rhubarb. What's more, studies show that an overall diet low in salt and very low in animal protein can greatly reduce your chance of developing kidney stones.

Restricting your intake of calcium, on the other hand, doesn't seem to lower your risk. In fact, researchers have found that women with the highest calcium intake are less likely to develop kidney stones than women who consume less calcium. Why? Dietary calcium binds with oxalates in the gastrointestinal tract so that oxalates can't be absorbed from the intestine and excreted by the kidney to form stones.

Calcium supplements seem to have the same protective effect, but only if they're taken with meals. When taken on an empty stomach, the calcium can't bind with the oxalates in food.

Medications
Kidney stone medications control the level of acidity or alkalinity in your urine. The type of medication your doctor prescribes will depend on the kind of kidney stones you have:

  • Calcium stones. To help prevent calcium stones from forming, your doctor may prescribe a thiazide diuretic or a phosphate-containing preparation. If you have calcium stones because of a condition known as renal tubular acidosis, your doctor may suggest taking sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate.

  • Uric acid stones. Your doctor may prescribe allopurinol (Zyloprim, Aloprim) and a medicine to keep your urine alkaline. In some cases, allopurinol may also indirectly dissolve the uric acid stones.

  • Struvite stones. To prevent struvite stones, the first goal is to keep urine free of bacteria that cause infection. Your doctor may prescribe the drug acetohydroxamic acid (Lithostat) in addition to antibiotics.

  • Cystine stones. Cystine stones are the hardest stones and the most difficult to treat. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications when all other approaches have failed.

 

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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