The most frequent symptom that produces the presence of kidney stones or urinary calculus is the attack of acute pain called nephritic colic.
This pain, sometimes unbearable, that affects one of the flanks, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, has suffered or is suffered by 4.17% of the Spanish population.
In other occasions, the presence of blood and/or infection in the urine can alert on the presence of a stone.
Does it affect men or women more? Is it hereditary?
Kidney stones affect almost equally both sexes, with a moderate predominance in males. In any case, certain types of stones have a greater incidence in one sex with respect to the other: uric acid stones are more frequent in men and those of infectious origin in women.
The genetic origin of urinary stones is only clearly defined in one type of them: cystine.
In the rest of the cases, environmental aspects (diet, profession, habitat, etc.) have a greater influence, although, in the very near future, new genetic alterations may be demonstrated that may condition the appearance of urinary stones.
What are the treatments that are used today and what is being investigated in this regard?
68% of patients suffering from urinary stones solve their problem with spontaneous expulsion.
The remaining 32% will require the destruction of the calculus by sound waves (lithotripsy), or in cases of large calculations, endoscopic or open surgery will be required.
From 1984 to date, more than 300,000 patients have been treated by shock wave lithotripsy in Spain, making this technique the one of choice over inexpulsable urinary stones.
Currently, there are no alternatives to lithotripsy, but the machines used are increasingly versatile and more comfortable for the patient, being, in 80% of cases, painless and outpatient treatment.
1. Frequent and Painful Urination
Those with kidney stones describe an overwhelming and persistent urge to urinate, accompanied by pain, which will occur if the stone moves from the bladder to the urethra. This step is very painful and will often cause a urinary tract infection (UTI) as well.
2. Diffuse Back Pain
Acute pain is common for those who suffer from kidney stones, particularly on the side and back, just below the ribs where the kidneys are accommodated.
3. Blood in Urine
The urine of those who suffer from kidney stones is often described as pink, red or brown. When the stones grow and block the urethra, you may start to notice blood stains (a condition called hematuria) in the urine.
4. Nausea and vomiting
The feeling of nausea or upset stomach can be so serious with kidney stones that vomiting will occur. This happens for two reasons. First, vomiting can occur due to the extreme pain that comes with the passage of a kidney stone.
5. Unpleasant Odor of Urine
Those with kidney stones may notice, along with the discoloration of the urine, that it has a cloudy appearance and a bad odor, due to hard chemicals (or toxins) that remain in the body and crystallize to form the stone as such.
6. Inability to Sit
Often, if the kidney stones are large and severe enough. The patient will be unable to sit or lie down in a comfortable position due to pressure in the area. This is why many people with kidney stones often stand up and walk.
7. Fever and Chills
If the kidney stones are left untreated, they will often be accompanied by a mild to high fever with chills. This is probably due to a urinary tract infection (or UTI) and the patient should see the doctor immediately.
8. Abdominal and Kidney Swelling
Larger stones can block the flow of urine and cause the kidneys to swell painfully. The kidneys are located on both sides of the body below the diaphragm near the lower back and you may notice inflammation in this area or in the area of the abdomen and groin.
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