WHAT ARE KIDNEY/ RENAL STONES?
Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys. Stones in the kidney are formed when there is less urine volume or more stone-forming substance in urine or if both conditions are present. the stones usually originate in the kidneys but may be formed anywhere in the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra).
When urine becomes concentrated, there is stagnation of the flow. When there is stagnation, it’s easy for the minerals to stick together and crystalize to form stones.
After being formed in the kidneys the stone may pass lower through the ureter to the bladder for expulsion along with the urine which is a painful process except the stone is a microlith and is smaller in size.
- Dehydration may be a major risk factor in stone formation.
- Medical conditions like gout, parathyroid dysfunction can also be associated with stone formation.
- Excess supplements can also cause stone formation.
- Age between 20-40 years.
- Production of less than a liter of urine in 24 hours.
- Obese people.
- High protein and salt in diet.
TYPES OF KIDNEY STONES:
CALCIUM STONES: calcium stones are most common. Calcium can bind with oxalate, phosphate, maleate to form stones. Calcium oxalate stones are most common.
URIC ACID STONES: these stones are usually seen in people with gout. Acidic urine is the most suitable environment of such stones to form. Diet rich in purine increases the acidity of the urine. These stones are more common in men.
STRUVITE STONES: these stones are usually formed in women with recurrent urinary tract infection and the stone could be large enough to cause obstruction to urine flow.
CYSTINE STONES: these stones are rare and are formed of cystine which is a naturally occurring acid in the body but leaks from the kidneys into the urine.
SYMPTOMS & CAUSES
Symptoms of kidney stones include:
- Pain in the flanks below the ribs starting from the back and coming in front to the groin area. The pain is very intense and debilitating.
- Pain starts with low intensity and increases in intensity.
- Pain while urinating with persistent urge to urinate than usual.
- Burning while urination.
- Offensive and turbid urine.
- Reddish, brown urine.
- Nausea and vomiting along with pain.
- Fever with chills if infection is there.
- High oxalate causes formation of calcium oxalate stones.
- Conditions like gout, hyperparathyroidism would also cause stones.
- Recurrent urinary tract infections would also cause stones.
- Low fluid intake, less frequent voiding of urine, concentration of urine would also cause stones.
- Excessive supplements would also help in stone formation.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Diagnosis is made by following things:
- Blood test for calcium and uric acid levels.
- Urine analysis for excretion of mineral or infective organism.
- Ultrasound would show stone in the tract.
- The stone passed should also be analyzed for the type of stone.
- Treatment includes relieving the pain and removing the cause for stone formation.
- Dietary management is also necessary for removing the tendency to form stones.
- Adequate liquid intake: liquid intake should be enough to help void 2 L of urine everyday. On an average 3 L of fluid (mostly water) should be taken everyday. This will keep the urine less concentrated and would reduce the risk of stone formation. A glass of water is advisable before going to bed also and during night also if sleep breaks.
- Minimize sodium intake: Calcium is not the enemy as if there is high levels of calcium in urine then sodium reduction in diet can help reduce calcium loss in urine. Extra sodium would cause more calcium in urine which would develop the risk of formation stone. Sodium intake should be below 2300mg
- Foods low in oxalates: in case you have calcium oxalate stones then you should limit intake of oxalate which is found naturally in many foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, legumes, chocolate and tea. Peanut, spinach, beets, chocolate, sweet potato are rich in oxalates.
- Say no to packed and processed food: packed and processed food items have high sodium content and should be avoided to reduce loss of calcium in urine (calciuria).
- Limit purine intake:Purine is a natural chemical compound which leads to high production of uric acid. This uric acid is then deposited in joints or in kidneys to form uric acid stones. Purine rich foods- red meat, organ meat, shellfish
- Follow healthy diet: diet should include mostly vegetable, fruits, whole grain, low fat dairy products as it would help keeping the acidity of urine low thus preventing stone formation.
- Enough animal protein but not much: animal protein though important for the body should always be enough to be sufficient and not excessive. Much intake of animal protein would increase the acidity of urine thus promoting stone formation. Source of animal protein are beef, chicken, pork, fish, eggs
- Citrus fruits: lemonades and citrus fruits are rich in citrate which prevent binding of calcium with other constituents to form stones. Citrate also don’t let the pre-formed crystals to grow bigger.
- Reduce refined sugar: refined sugar causes increased calcium in urine with fall in urine volume. Both of these situations are apt for stone formation.
- Healthy lifestyle: good food, regular exercise, enough liquid and less alcohol would help preventing stone formation. Alcohol increase uric acid levels in blood and can promote stone formation.
- Pain relieving is also essential with homeopathic medicines.
Homeopathic medicines would not only help in relieving the pain but would also remove the tendency for recurrent stones.
Medicines like NUX VOMICA, PULSATILLA, LYCOPODIUM, TUBERCULINUM, CANTHARIS, SARSAPARILLA, BERBERIS VULGARIS, EQUISETUM etc are very good for stones depending on the symptoms and constitution of the patient.
DO’S AND DON’TS
- Drink plenty of water.
- Do regular exercise.
- Take healthy diet.
- Take citrus fruits.
- Don't take alcohol
- Don't smoke
- Don’t eat food items high in oxalates.
- Avoid purine rich food
- Avoid refined sugar.
- Avoid much sodium.