Robert has been through a lot. Four years in Army special forces and 30 years as a museum specialist. Robert has had his share of injuries, bangs and bruises, but will swear that there was nothing more painful than the time he had to pass a kidney stone. Robert will tell you that there are many ways to properly treat a kidney stone, and some are more memorable than others.
What is a Kidney Stone?
We can all agree that urine is a liquid. However, there are substances that are found in urine – such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid – that can stick together and even crystalize. The kidney stone forms where there are more crystallized particles in your urine than actual fluid that can dilute them. When these substances can’t be flushed away in your pee, the conditions are ripe for kidney stones to form.
This too [Might] Pass
Some kidney stones eventually pass through the ureter to the bladder on their own, usually with the help of medication and lots of hydration. A doctor might ask you to strain your urine stream through cheese cloth or a fine strainer to capture stone fragments to send to the lab for further evaluation. However, if the stone is too large to pass, causing too much pain or infection, or if your kidney functions are obstructed, the kidney stone will require surgery to be removed.
If this is the case, you most likely will undergo a procedure during which shock waves are directed at the stone to break it up into smaller pieces that will eventually be passed through the urinary system. Other times, a doctor might opt to use a more traditional method in which a ureteroscope is sent through a small incision in the skin though the urethra and bladder and up into the ureter to remove the stone.
Whether you will pass the stone on its own or with the help of surgery, expect to be in a good deal of pain and be prescribed medication to make the process less excruciating.
Am I at Risk?
One in 20 Americans will develop kidney stones in their lifetime. Besides debilitating pain, you might notice blood in your urine. Those with certain medical conditions such as gout, or those prone to urinary tract infections, may be at higher risk of getting kidney stones. Hydration plays a critical role in preventing kidney stones; that’s why hydration is one of the easiest ways to keep kidney stones at bay. Certain vitamins and supplements may also help prevent kidney stones, but if your family has a history of developing them, or you are Asian or Caucasian, your risk rises, as it does if you are male and between the ages of 20 to 49. Unfortunately, if you have one kidney stone, your risk increases that you will develop more in your lifetime.
If you notice blood in your urine or are experiencing excruciating flank pain, you may have a kidney stone and will want to seek immediate medical attention. Contact the experts at Ironwood Urology who can determine the severity of your condition and ensure proper action is taken. To learn more, call Dr. Desi Avila at (480) 961-2323, or request an appointment online.