Kidney stones: When will they become an emergency?
At least once in a lifetime, every 25 Germans suffer from ureter and kidney stones, according to statistics. Painful colic can occur due to kidney and ureteral stones, and even become an emergency if a urine infection and a fever arise in a stone. What are kidney stones? What treatment is recommended? Can a stone be “washed away” by drinking? More about this in the following article.
What are kidney stones?
Renal stones, called nephrolitic or renal constriction, are formed from the constituents of the urine, which is normally present as a dissolved substance in the urine. These solute substances can deposit and crystallize – most kidney stones consist of calcium salts. The size of kidney stones can also vary: the size of a ricecorn to a growth to a diameter of several centimeters is possible; some kidney stones can also fill the entire renal cavity system.
Symptoms of kidney stones
As a rule, resting stones do not cause any discomfort and can only be discovered by chance in an ultrasound examination. Sometimes kidney stones are also responsible for a recurring urine infection or blood in the urine.
If the size of a stone increases, and because of this remains stuck in the urethra, severe pain often occurs. A so-called kidney collision is called, which produces wavy pain, which can begin on the flank and radiate into the abdomen. Due to the size of the mucosa, the mucous membrane in the ureter can be injured, blood in the urine is microscopically visible. A urological emergency is the case when the person concerned, in addition to the waving pain, also develops a urine infection and additionally has a fever. Fever and chills may in rare cases be signs of a life-threatening blood poisoning due to urinary retention.
Kidney stones: diagnostics
Part of the diagnosis is first a detailed medical history, in which questions are asked about the medical history:
- Did kidney stones occur before?
- do family members also suffer from kidney stones?
- what eating habits are available?
- sufficient liquid supply?
- Pre-existing conditions
- taking medication
A blood test provides information on how well the kidneys work and whether there is an infection. In a urine examination, it can be determined whether blood is present in the urine. The function of the kidney can also be assessed by sonography; in addition, kidney stones of a size of approximately two millimeters can be recognized and the suspicion of a urinary tract can be checked. The best diagnostic method is the native computer tomography, which can diagnose the exact location and size of stones in the kidneys and ureters. Additional information can also be provided by an X-ray examination with contrast media.
Treatment of kidney stones
The treatment of stone caries depends on the size of the stone: if small kidney stones are detected by chance in a routine ultrasound examination, there is generally no need for treatment. Regular checks are recommended here, as long as the stones do not cause pain and there is no risk of urine flow or urine infection. A size of approximately four millimeters is tolerable, so that the urine can be discharged by itself. The process can be supported by providing a sufficient supply of liquid and additionally sports activity. Drugs that make the urine more alkaline can also be taken with medication, whereby the stone can dissolve.
By means of acoustic pressure waves (stones), stones can be smashed or reduced to small fragments so that they can then leave the urine. For this therapy approach individual and not too large stones are suitable. For larger stones, endoscopic operations must be performed under general anesthesia.
In some cases kidney stones can be prevented if the following advice is taken:
- balanced mixed food
- No cooking salt
- sufficient liquid supply
- Reduction of animal fat (meat, sausage) on the diet
- Cereal products, in particular whole grain products
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- physical movement
- Avoid overweight
- avoid severe cuts, as these may favor certain forms of kidney stones
Despite all this, there are people who are repeatedly affected by kidney stones. Urologists recommend a urine-specific metabolic examination in a urinary center.
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