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Steinberg Urology: Increasing Awareness and Understanding About Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are small deposits or hard crystals forming inside your kidneys when minerals and salts in your urine bond together. Kidney stones may come unnoticed and stay in the urinary system with little or no symptoms, but as they grow in size and move location, there may be intense pain requiring surgical intervention so as not to obstruct urine flow and proper urinary system functioning. In Steinberg Urology, patients with kidney stones are given the proper diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care, focusing on long-term health.

What are the risks of developing kidney stones? It includes family history of kidney stones (first-degree relatives), dehydration (lack of fluids), certain diets (high in protein, oxalates, and stones like chocolates, nuts, and spinach), excess vitamin C or vitamin D intake, inflammatory conditions (Crohn’s disease, chronic diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease), metabolic disorders (gout or hyperthyroidism), and obesity. When it comes to thesigns and symptoms of kidney stones, it may include severe pain (located in the side or the back, radiating to the abdomen and the groin area), painful urination, frequent need to urinate, urinary urge, blood in the urine (hematuria), nausea and vomiting, foul smelling urine, and fever (stone causing infection). The common diagnostic tools for kidney stones include CT scan, ultrasound, x-ray, urinalysis, and blood work to determine excessive uric acid or calcium. With the help of increased fluid intake (to flush out stones), pain relievers (acetaminophen), and alpha blockers (to relax ureters to allow passing of stones with lesser pain), small kidney stones may pass through the kidneys. You may be asked by your urologist to use a special strainer to catch the kidney stones or fragments to determine what type of stones you have to help in the management of your kidney stones that may form in the future.

Kidney stones have different shapes and sizes including uric acid stones, calcium-oxalate, struvite stones, and cystine stones. The most common type of kidney stones are calcium-oxalate caused by oxalate-rich foods such as spinach, kale, chocolate, strawberries, nuts, and tea, high in salt food, and certain medications. Struvite stones grow very large, causing infection, and it affects both men and women. Excessive intake of animal protein like red meat may cause uric acid stones which are made of uric acid, a waste product of the body found in the urine. Shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) refers to a non-invasive procedure for removing smaller stones (less than 10mm in diameter) wherein high energy shock waves are delivered through the body to the stone, breaking up the stone into small particles. Allow Steinberg Urology to help you manage your kidney stones.