Kidney stones develop for a number of reasons: high levels of calcium in the blood or urine, urinary tract infection and kidney-related diseases are only some of them.
Most often than not, these stones are detected by accident through routine ultrasound tests, x-ray, blood or urine tests since they initially do not show any telling symptoms.
How Big is a Kidney Stone?
Kidney stones come in various sizes. They can be as tiny as a grain of sand and they can also grow into something similar to the size of a pearl or even a golf ball.
In cases where the size is relatively small, patients pass the kidney stones without experiencing any symptoms hence; they were never detected.
However, once they grow about two to three millimeters in size, they can already obstruct the ureter – those tubes that pass urine from the kidneys down to the urinary bladder – in which case, patients may already feel pain.
As mentioned, if the kidney stones are still in their early stages in that they have not grown into a size that can obstruct the ureter, a patient will not feel anything.
However, once it begins to obstruct the ureter, and it tries to pass through a patient may experience pain in the lower part of the abdomen or groin area.
In some cases, this pain is accompanied by nausea and also vomiting. Patients may also see traces of blood in their urine.
Other symptoms include pus in the urine, a burning sensation when urinating – this is often kidney stones related to urinary tract infection and limited urine volume.
Prevention and Treatment
Doctors advise that the best way to prevent formation of kidney stones is to drink at least eight glasses of water per day or enough amount of water to allow the body to pass urine that is about two to two and one-half liters a day.
Studies have shown that drinking milk or coffee and lowering protein intake likewise proved to be an efficient way of preventing development of kidney stones.
Certain medications have also been related to the prevention of kidney stones specifically those used to treat excessive uric acid in the blood and medications used to treat urinary tract infection.
Patients experiencing kidney stones symptoms are usually given palliative treatments to address the pain.
Larger kidney stones are also eliminated through extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy – a procedure that breaks the stones into smaller sizes so they can be passed more easily through the urine.