Kidney stones are small crystals formed in the urinary tract that cause severe lower back pain to the patient.
In this article, there will be an in-depth explanation of kidney stones, its symptoms, causes, and how to prevent it from getting worse. Also, how stress or diet can influence the formation of kidney stones.
By reading this article, you will obtain insight from a doctor of a really dangerous and insidious disease. Please continue reading to get the knowledge everybody needs about this condition.
What does a kidney do?
The kidneys are two organs that are under the lower ribs in the back of your body. Their primary function is to filter the blood by excretion through the urine, but they have many others. These organs also sense and regulate if you are missing fluids or have more than what you should. Kidneys additionally produce hormones that are in charge of making red blood cells regulate blood pressure and vitamin D.
The kidneys’ filtration works because of microscopic units called glomeruli that discriminate what the body needs or doesn’t. The blood flows to the kidney, passes through the glomeruli, and filtered blood returns to the heart.
Moreover, the kidneys excrete the residual fluids (now urine) using the urinary tract, getting to the bladder through the ureters and then outside the body through the urethra.
There are several ways these organs can get ill and cause diverse symptoms and problems, depending on the source. High blood pressure and diabetes are two common diseases that produce kidney damage if they aren’t correctly taken care of.
In diabetes, there are high blood sugar levels that harm the glomeruli, allowing proteins into the urine when they shouldn’t. High blood pressure also damages the glomeruli, making it the second most common cause of chronic kidney failure.
Additionally, kidney infections cause damage if a doctor doesn’t treat them accordingly and on time since they are quite dangerous. Some diseases are genetic, like polycystic kidney disease that leads to cyst formation in the organ.
The growth of these cysts hurts the healthy tissue, and doctors correlate them to kidney cancer, although it is not usual. Another kidney disease is kidney stones, also known as nephrolithiasis, they cause injury to the kidneys if it isn’t treated.
What are kidney stones?
It’s an obstructive disease in which a stone that comes from the kidney, painfully gets through the urinary tract. The stone can also get stuck at different levels of this tract, not letting urine pass to the other side. This accumulation of urine increases the kidney’s pressure and can cause acute kidney failure, which can be fatal.
Acute kidney failure is when the organ suddenly stops working because of reversible, but important, harm to the tissue. Different types of stones can affect the urinary tract, each with different characteristics and causes.
The most common ones are calcium stones made of calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. These minerals accumulate in kidney tissue, and then they slowly pass through the tissue to the ureters.
The next most common are struvite stones, which are a product of chronic urinary tract infections. The bacteria splits excreted molecules in the urine called urea, combined with phosphate and magnesium, forming a stone.
Another type is uric acid stones, products of an acid pH in the urine, and a lot of purine consumption. Purine is a molecule found mostly in meat products that are important for DNA and protein formation.
Some people have trouble processing purines, which can lead to an excess in the excretion through urine besides other diseases. Finally, the least common type is cysteine stones. These are products of a large number of amino acids like cysteine or lysine in the urine.
Can stress affect the kidneys?
Stress can affect the kidneys, but not always in the ways we might think. There are still not enough studies that prove a direct pathway between stress and a kidney problem. However, it is known that stress and its psychological effects lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms that directly harm the kidney.
Usually, people with stress are prone to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity because of anxious behaviors. These anxious behaviors could be, for example, stress-eating unhealthy foods, sedentary lifestyle, use of drugs and alcohol, amongst others. There are also other diseases that doctors correlate to stress like lupus, which is an autoimmune disease.
All of these conditions directly affect the kidney in a great manner and can go hand-in-hand with each other. Although there are not enough studies about stress and kidneys, it’s known that stress releases molecules that increase inflammation. So it is probable there is a direct biological effect over the kidney, mainly due to chronic stress.
How do I know I have a kidney problem?
Some symptoms can be quite specific to illnesses of the urinary system, such as:
- Severe pain: When there are kidney stones, they usually cause intense pain doctors to call nephritic colic. It originates from the lower back and can go down and upfront following the pathway of the ureters. This severe pain can also lead to nausea and vomits.
- Frequent urination: If there is renal failure, the kidney cannot absorb back the blood that filtrates, and there is an increase in the frequency of urination. Or, if there is also a urinary tract infection besides the kidney stones.
- Difficulty to urinate: When there are bladder stones, they can obstruct the way from the bladder to the urethra, making it hard for the patient to urinate. It can also cause pain or a burning sensation when the patient goes to the bathroom.
- Fever: Infections can be common in the urinary tract, especially for women, in which doctors associate it with fevers.
- Fluid retention, also known as edema, causes swelling in the lower parts of the body because of kidney failure.
Does caffeine cause kidney stones?
Numerous studies have shown that not only caffeine doesn’t cause kidney stones, but can help in their prevention. Although it’s known that caffeine increases the calcium in the urine, there are other reasons it actually reduces the risk.
First of all, the people who consume caffeine have a higher urine output than those who don’t consume it. Also, that urine is more diluted thanks to the caffeine. The dilution of the urine makes it less likely for the calcium to react to other molecules and form crystals.
The dilution of the urine is one of the main factors that can prevent kidney stones from forming. When a person has dehydration, the kidneys try to save as most body fluids as possible, making them produce highly concentrated urine. One of the most significant tools for preventing this condition is drinking plenty of water to keep the urine clear of stones.
What foods help repair kidneys?
It will depend on the type of stone that is damaging the kidney since they have different formations. People wrongly believe that reducing your calcium intake will reduce kidney stones, even if it’s a calcium stone. When the calcium intake diminishes, the body increases its absorption in the guts and from the bones. This makes the kidney to excrete more calcium while maintaining a normal intake or more reduces the excretion of it.
When there is less calcium in the urine, there is less calcium oxalate stones formation in the kidneys. Another technique doctors recommend is to eat calcium high and oxalate-rich foods together in the same meal. This causes the two molecules to bind together in the intestine rather than in the kidneys, reducing the risks.
With uric acid stones, it is a different formation, so the foods that help are different as well. In this type of stone, we need to reduce uric acid excretion since it drives toward acidic urine and stone formations. Eating a diet with mostly vegetables, fruits, dairy, and grains decreases the purine in the body and the stones.
Doctors associate the consumption of fruits with potassium citrate like lemon with declines of stone formation in the kidney.
How can you reduce stress in your kidneys?
The main way of reducing stress in your kidneys is by reducing risk factors that damage them. Preventing diabetes and high blood pressure can be a great deal of reducing stress in your kidneys. Also very important is to keep you hydrated, since severe dehydration causes acute renal failure. This can lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is irreversible and might even need a kidney transplant.
When there is a cardiovascular disease like heart failure, stress is put to the kidney because it receives less blood. This shows it has to be taken into account the root of the stress the kidney might have.
Different diagnostic methods work for getting to know the source of the kidney stone. A urine test is the primary tool doctors have in these cases since it shows a broad spectrum of characteristics. Red blood cells, proteins (proteinuria), bacteria, Ph, white blood cells, minerals are just some of the things that are seen.
Depending on the symptoms, the doctor will look for specific traits in this test. A blood test is also essential to measure the damage a kidney has and what consequences is producing. Imaging is the key to a precise diagnosis of complicated renal conditions such as nephrolithiasis, congenital diseases, autoimmune conditions, etc.
Is cranberry juice good for kidney stones?
Some people recommend cranberry juice for kidney stones, but in fact, they don’t have proven benefits to reduce kidney stones. They do work to reduce urinary tract infections and these prone to struvite stones, but there is a lack of information.
Others like orange juice or lemonade have shown promising results on kidney stones decrease, but not all citric juices work. These have resulted because of potassium citrate, which lows kidney stones and that kidney pain.
What drinks are bad for kidneys?
Sodas are the worst kind of beverage for people with kidney diseases since they push for kidney stone formation. They have a high amount of sodium that is parallel excreted with calcium, increasing calcium in the urine. These drinks also have a significant amount of phosphates that can precipitate with calcium and form stones.
Other beverages like beers have harmful effects specifically to uric acid stones since they are high in purine. It is also known that really high levels of vitamin C, mostly coming from supplements, can increase levels of oxalate.
The primary prevention method for kidney stones is to drink a vast amount of water every day. This reduces the concentration of the urine and prevents the formation of stones in the kidneys.
Other liquid intakes can be acquired as long as they are low on sugar and sodium levels. Finally, it’s important to check with a professional if you think you have kidney stones since every patient is different.
Are you having symptoms of kidney stones?
This tool is a kidney stones symptoms checker. It gathers the most important signs, symptoms, and risk factors for this condition. Therefore, the tool will determine the likelihood of having kidney stones for anybody who uses it. The most important feature of it is that it is free and would only take a few minutes to complete it.