Myths and legends

Why do stones form in the body?

A pathological condition characterized by the appearance of stones in the kidneys is called kidney stones. Nephrologists and urologists treat this pathology. This disease is treated by: Kidney stones are a common disease in urological practice, manifested by the deposition of salt stones (calculi) in the kidney tissue. Doctors also call this pathology nephrolithiasis. Nephrologists include aching pain in the lumbar region and painful urination as characteristic symptoms of kidney stones. Patients often notice the appearance of urine with a reddish tint. Blood in the urine with nephrolithiasis is caused by damage to the mucous membranes of organs from stones. The reason for the formation of kidney stones may be due to poor diet, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and hereditary factors. Kidney stones are found in patients of any age. Men are more often susceptible to this pathology. Typically, stones form in only one kidney, but in approximately 15% of cases, bilateral nephrolithiasis is observed. Penetration of stones into the underlying parts of the urinary tract can cause urolithiasis affecting the ureters, bladder or urethra. Kidney stone disease often recurs with re-formation of stones after treatment, however, following the diet and doctor’s prescriptions helps to avoid new cases of stone formation.

Symptoms of kidney stones

  • Spread of lumbar pain to the abdomen, ribs, perineum and genitals;
  • Sharp pain during urination;
  • Discharge of reddish or brown urine with an unpleasant odor;
  • Frequent urge to urinate;
  • Increased body temperature, chills;
  • Excretion of urine in small portions and lack of relief;
  • Bloating.

In many patients, nephrolithiasis does not manifest symptoms, so the disease can only be accurately identified using special diagnostic methods. The presence of fever and chills may indicate the development of inflammation and infection.

Causes of kidney stones

The formation of kidney stones can be caused by genetic factors, high levels of calcium in the blood, obesity, poor diet, insufficient fluid intake and certain medications. It is believed that the main reason for the formation of stones is a change in the chemical composition of urine: too many salts appear in the liquid, resulting in urine crystallization. Nephrologists know several main types of kidney stones, the chemical composition of which makes it possible to clarify the cause of the disease.

  • The formation of calcium stones due to excessive accumulation of calcium oxalate in the body. This salt regularly enters the body with food and is secreted by liver cells. Eating certain fruits, vegetables, nuts and chocolate promotes the formation of calcium stones;
  • Formation of struvite stones due to chronic kidney infection.
  • The appearance of urate stones consisting of uric acid. The cause of this form of nephrolithiasis may be insufficient water intake, excessive sweating, frequent urination and the intake of large amounts of protein food into the body;
  • Formation of cystine stones against the background of a hereditary disease (cystinuria);
  • Taking anticonvulsants and excess vitamin D intake into the body;
  • Pathologies affecting metabolism and hormonal regulation of the body.

Determining the cause of nephrolithiasis is important for selecting effective treatment for the disease and preventing relapses.

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Kidney stones are positioned as urolithiasis, in which hard formations of different sizes and different composition appear in the kidneys, as well as in any part of the urinary tract. If these crystals are very small, they are secretly excreted in the urine. With this disease, the stone creates favorable conditions for infection of the kidneys and urinary tract. This leads to blockage of urine flow and the proliferation of microorganisms. In case of prolonged blockage of the urinary tract, the pressure in the kidney increases, which entails hydronephrosis and damage. With this disease, a stone can appear either in a single quantity in one of the kidneys or have a bilateral process and consist of several stones. Moreover, some stones can exist in the body for a long time, without increasing in size, while others can grow and reach more than 10 cm in diameter in just a few months. This can cause serious complications. There are often cases when stones form repeatedly, and the disease becomes complex, leading to relapses.

The mechanism of formation of kidney stone disease

  • Oxalates are stones consisting of black-gray salts that have a spiky surface and a dense structure. They are formed due to the high concentration of uric acid;
  • phosphates. These smooth, whitish-gray stones form as a result of infections in the genitourinary system;
  • urates – light yellow, smooth salt crystals formed from uric acid salts;
  • carbonates – smooth, light-colored stones that appear when calcium settles in the urine;
  • cystines are yellowish-white, smooth stones formed due to the deposition of cystine. They have a hereditary component;
  • protein stones are flat, soft white stone formations that contain infectious microorganisms;
  • cholesterol – soft, black stones formed by cholesterol;
  • xanthine stones are stones that fall out with apatite in acidic urine.

In addition, stones of not only homogeneous, but also mixed types can form in the kidneys. One of the most complex variants of this disease are coral-shaped kidney stones growing in the pelvis. They have a bizarre shape with branched processes.

Necessary methods of prevention and prognosis of the disease

In most cases, the prognosis for treatment and further recovery is favorable. The disease may not recur if all specialist recommendations are followed. Otherwise, kidney stone disease can lead to the formation of calculous pyelonephritis, symptomatic hypertension, chronic renal failure and hydropyonephrosis. When stones are passed in the urine, they must be sent for laboratory tests, where the composition will be determined. This allows you to prescribe the correct dietary course of treatment, which will help avoid the formation of new stones. In addition to diets, experts recommend that their patients follow the following rules:

  • constantly move, lead a healthy lifestyle;
  • try to spend less time on long trips by transport;
  • if your work activity takes place at the computer, then you need to take breaks more often, getting up and warming up;
  • carefully monitor the level of acid and alkali in the urine using litmus paper;
  • consume foods containing vitamin C in moderation;
  • do not abuse alcoholic beverages;
  • adhere to the regime of drinking a large volume of water so that about three liters of urine are excreted per day;
  • if you are overweight, try to get rid of it;
  • pay attention to the regularity of bowel movements;
  • Do not use diuretics without doctor’s advice. This can lead to dehydration;
  • do not drink chilled beer or kvass. These drinks affect the smooth functioning of the kidneys;
  • do not swim in cold water;
  • avoid drafts;
  • reduce portions of foods containing proteins, since protein in the body increases acidity. It resists the absorption of calcium, which leads to the precipitation of calcium salts.

Considering that the symptoms of kidney stones are very similar to various types of diseases, the patient is recommended to seek help from a doctor at the first sign. If kidney stones are removed, the patient must strictly follow the prescribed diet and eliminate associated risk factors.

The mechanism of formation of kidney stone disease

Many experts argue that the basis for the formation of kidney stones is a violation of the protective colloids of urine and changes in the renal chlorenchyma. Stones are formed from crystals of salts and minerals that accumulate in the kidneys over time. When abnormalities occur in the body system and the renal canals, the balance of the concentration of water and other elements of urine is disrupted, then substances dissolved in them can precipitate and accumulate in the urinary tract. Over time, this sediment turns into stones.

It is due to negative conditions and from insoluble particles that a micelle develops. This is the name of the cell that directly forms the core of the calculus. Also, stones form in the kidneys due to excessive salt content, amorphous sediments, fibrins, bacteria, foreign bodies in the urine, as well as inflammation. The intensity and direction of this process directly depends on the acid-base state of the internal environment of the body, which is assessed by the pH value. If the urine pH is normal (from 5 to 6), then the salts dissolve in it. During a sharp violation of this indicator, the colloidal state of urine and the conditions for the dissolution of salts in it change, which entails their precipitation.

Disruption of the normal outflow of urine leads to the formation of single and multiple large stones. With a high concentration or a shift in the pH of urine in the kidneys, the process of crystallization of microlites occurs, which are retained in the channels. After which the stone can increase in size, localize in the kidneys, and descend into the urinary system.

There are several types of stone formation, differing in their composition and size, namely:

  • Oxalates are stones consisting of black-gray salts that have a spiky surface and a dense structure. They are formed due to the high concentration of uric acid;
  • phosphates. These smooth, whitish-gray stones form as a result of infections in the genitourinary system;
  • urates – light yellow, smooth salt crystals formed from uric acid salts;
  • carbonates – smooth, light-colored stones that appear when calcium settles in the urine;
  • cystines are yellowish-white, smooth stones formed due to the deposition of cystine. They have a hereditary component;
  • protein stones are flat, soft white stone formations that contain infectious microorganisms;
  • cholesterol – soft, black stones formed by cholesterol;
  • xanthine stones are stones that fall out with apatite in acidic urine.

In addition, stones of not only homogeneous, but also mixed types can form in the kidneys. One of the most complex variants of this disease are coral-shaped kidney stones growing in the pelvis. They have a bizarre shape with branched processes.

Necessary methods of prevention and prognosis of the disease

In most cases, the prognosis for treatment and further recovery is favorable. The disease may not recur if all specialist recommendations are followed. Otherwise, kidney stone disease can lead to the formation of calculous pyelonephritis, symptomatic hypertension, chronic renal failure and hydropyonephrosis. When stones are passed in the urine, they must be sent for laboratory tests, where the composition will be determined. This allows you to prescribe the correct dietary course of treatment, which will help avoid the formation of new stones. In addition to diets, experts recommend that their patients follow the following rules:

  • constantly move, lead a healthy lifestyle;
  • try to spend less time on long trips by transport;
  • if your work activity takes place at the computer, then you need to take breaks more often, getting up and warming up;
  • carefully monitor the level of acid and alkali in the urine using litmus paper;
  • consume foods containing vitamin C in moderation;
  • do not abuse alcoholic beverages;
  • adhere to the regime of drinking a large volume of water so that about three liters of urine are excreted per day;
  • if you are overweight, try to get rid of it;
  • pay attention to the regularity of bowel movements;
  • Do not use diuretics without doctor’s advice. This can lead to dehydration;
  • do not drink chilled beer or kvass. These drinks affect the smooth functioning of the kidneys;
  • do not swim in cold water;
  • avoid drafts;
  • reduce portions of foods containing proteins, since protein in the body increases acidity. It resists the absorption of calcium, which leads to the precipitation of calcium salts.

Considering that the symptoms of kidney stones are very similar to various types of diseases, the patient is recommended to seek help from a doctor at the first sign. If kidney stones are removed, the patient must strictly follow the prescribed diet and eliminate associated risk factors.

Causes of kidney stones

Considering the process of formation of this disease, it should be noted that kidney stones, the causes and manifestations of which are varied, can develop in the presence of a number of accompanying factors:

  • increased production of hormones;
  • hyperparathyroidism (increased levels of calcium in the blood);
  • alcohol abuse;
  • heavy consumption of certain foods and drinking water containing a lot of calcium.

In a word, kidney stones can appear for both external (exogenous) and internal (endogenous) reasons.

Exogenous factors for the formation of kidney stones include climatic conditions, as well as poor diet and poor drinking habits. If there is a deficiency of vitamins, when eating spicy, salty or sour foods, as well as when drinking water containing lime salt, there is every chance of urine oxidation and salt precipitation.

Endogenous factors contributing to the formation of kidney stones are caused by disturbances in mineral metabolism due to various injuries of the spine and spinal cord, as well as various diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, leading to disruption of the acid-base balance, increased excretion of calcium salts, weakening of the barrier functions of the liver and changes in composition of urine.

The reason for the formation of the core of the calculus, around which salts are localized in crystals, is also infectious and inflammatory processes that disrupt the passage of urine.

Symptoms of stone formation

The symptoms of this disease – kidney stones – can be expressed in different ways, depending on the size, quantity and composition, they can be determined by such signs as:

  • sharp colic in the side;
  • back pain;
  • lower abdominal pain;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • pain when urinating;
  • the appearance of sand or stones in the urine;
  • cloudy urine;
  • renal colic;
  • hematuria;
  • pyuria.

It is the disruption of the outflow of urine that can cause aching or dull pain in the lower back, aggravated by sudden urostasis or when a stone blocks the renal pelvis, as well as the ureter. This leads to renal colic. If staghorn stones develop in the kidneys, they usually cause a mild and dull pain. In turn, smaller stones cause sharp, paroxysmal pain.

If renal colic develops, a person feels acute pain in the lumbar region, radiating to the ureter, perineum and genitals. Anuria and chills are often observed during an exacerbation of an attack in a patient.

When stones pass in the urine, they injure the urinary tract mucosa, causing hematuria. Hematuria can be either minor erythrocyturia or severe gross hematuria. If there are inflammatory processes in the kidneys or urinary tract, then pyuria (discharge of pus in the urine) may develop.

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How are kidney stones diagnosed?

In order to diagnose kidney stones, specialists prescribe the patient to undergo anamnesis and other tests:

  • biochemical urine analysis for the presence of an infectious process, salt crystals and bacteria;
  • a blood test to determine the concentration and cause of the appearance of stone-forming elements;
  • Abdominal ultrasound, which helps evaluate pathological changes in the kidneys and the location of stones, and also allows one to see enlargement, inflammation or changes in the structure of the kidneys;
  • radiography. This diagnostic method includes a regular X-ray, so the specialist is not always able to examine small stones in the kidneys;
  • Urography is a deep research method. During the procedure, the patient is injected intravenously with a special contrast agent, which is clearly visible on an x-ray. After some time it appears, visualizing the various stages of this stone formation process.

However, to identify the smallest and less noticeable types of stones, doctors perform a urological examination, supplemented by MRI or computed tomography of the kidneys, as well as radioisotope scintigraphy (injecting radioactive substances into the blood and then scanning their excretion through the kidneys).

Methods for treating urolithiasis

Treatment of kidney stones can be conservative or surgical. As already noted, stones come in different sizes and compositions and can re-form. Therefore, the doctor prescribes treatment for the patient according to the type of stones detected.

If the size of the detected kidney stones does not exceed three mm, then the patient is recommended to adhere to a certain diet that excludes meat and includes drinking plenty of water. Thus, the stones pass out of the kidneys on their own. If urate stones are detected, the patient should consume only dairy and plant products and drink mineral water, which alkalinizes the urine. In addition, a specialist can prescribe medications that help dissolve stones.

If phosphates are detected, the patient is advised to follow a certain diet. It includes the consumption of boiled meat and fish, vegetable oil, as well as foods containing vitamin C. In this case, the patient is prohibited from foods supersaturated with calcium and magnesium, since in the presence of these minerals phosphates precipitate, which leads to the formation of stones.

If oxalates are diagnosed, the patient must eat boiled chicken and fish, vegetables, and confectionery.

If a patient develops renal colic, he undergoes treatment procedures aimed at eliminating pain and inflammation. In this case, injections are used, using heating pads or warm baths to warm up the lumbar region.

When a patient turns to specialists in the middle stages of the disease, he may be prescribed an ultrasound treatment method. If the disease is advanced, then specialists resort to the most alternative methods of treatment: endoscopic or laparoscopic surgery, as well as crushing stones through a puncture in the lumbar region. Of course, compared to conventional surgery, which causes serious complications and often leads to death, these treatment methods are the safest and most effective. Since during their implementation, the specialist makes small selective cuts, which allows him to crush and remove almost all types of stones without injury. A short period of rehabilitation is required for the patient to fully recover. Experts resort to standard surgery when relapses occur and there is no other way out, especially if the kidney stone disease is complicated.

In addition, folk remedies are also used in the treatment of this disease.

Traditional folk remedies for treating kidney stones include:

  • watermelon diet, which involves eating large quantities of watermelons with black bread for two weeks;
  • infusions of medicinal herbs rose hips, grapes, knotweed, barberry, St. John’s wort, larkspur and dandelion roots. It is recommended to take a glass of these infusions three times a day.

But before using this method, the patient is recommended to consult a doctor. After all, kidney stones are a serious disease, the wrong and untimely treatment of which can lead to complications and irreversible consequences.

This article is posted for educational purposes only and does not constitute scientific material or professional medical advice. Consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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