Kidney Stones Overview
Increase Your Knowledge About Kidney Stones: An Introduction
If you’ve experienced a sharp pain on your side and back right below the ribs, you might have kidney stones. These are lumps of hard mass that develop when crystals detach from urine inside the urinary tract.
Some stones can be as small as a grain of sand, but there are kidney stones that grow to be as large as a pearl or even a golf ball.
Kidney stones aren’t just agonizing, but they could also get stuck in the ureter (responsible for carrying urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and obstruct proper urine flow, especially if they are large. This anecdote from a commenter on CNN.com describes how painful these stones are:
“I’m a mom of [four] children, and I’ve had [one] kidney stone. I’d rather have [four] more children than have [one] more kidney stone.”
Statistics from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) revealed that half a million people end up in the emergency room yearly because of kidney stones. The NKF also estimates that at least 1 in 10 Americans will develop a kidney stone during his or her lifetime.
Kidney stones are more prevalent in men, as they have a lifetime incidence of nearly 13 percent, with Caucasian men being the most prone to stones compared to other ethnic groups. Meanwhile, kidney stone lifetime incidence is lower for women at a 7 percent rate.
While men and women between 30 to 60 years old are typically affected with kidney stones, people as young as 20 may already experience this condition. Alarmingly, kidney stone specialists have also noticed rising cases of kidney stones among infants, children and teenagers in recent years.
Aside from the physical pain they cause, kidney stones are a major burden to a patient’s wallet. A study published in the journal Translational Andrology and Urology said that annual estimates for kidney stones surpass $5 billion, which covers direct treatment costs for the stones and indirect costs linked with lost worker productivity.
How Do You get Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are the result of a buildup of dissolved minerals on the inner lining of the kidneys. They usually consist of calcium oxalate but may be composed of several other compounds.
Kidney stones can grow to the size of a golf ball while maintaining a sharp, crystalline structure. The stones may be small and pass unnoticed through the urinary tract, but they can also cause extreme pain as they leave the body.
A kidney stone usually remains symptomless until it moves into the ureter. When symptoms of kidney stones become apparent, they commonly include:
• Severe pain in the groin and/or side
• Blood in urine
• Vomiting and nausea
• White blood cells or pus in the urine
• Reduced amount of urine excreted
• Burning sensation during urination
• Persistent urge to urinate
• Fever and chills if there is an infection
Kidney stones that remain inside the body can also lead to many complications, including blockage of the the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder, which obstructs the path that urine uses to leave the body.
According to research, people with kidney stones have a significantly higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Causes & Risk Factors
The leading cause of kidney stones is a lack of water in the body. Stones are more commonly found in individuals who drink less than the recommended eight to ten glasses of water a day. When there is not enough water to dilute the uric acid, a component of urine, the urine becomes more acidic. An excessively acidic environment in urine can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
Medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infections, renal tubular acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, medullary sponge kidney, and Dent’s disease increase the risk of kidney stones.
Kidney stones are more common among males than females. Most people who experience kidney stones do so between the ages of 30 and 50 years. A family history of kidney stones also increases one’s chances of developing them.
Similarly, a previous kidney stone occurrence increases the risk that a person will develop subsequent stones in the future if preventative action is not taken.
Certain medications can increase the risk of developing kidney stones. Scientists found that topiramate (Topamax), a drug commonly prescribed to treat seizures and migraine headaches, can increase the likelihood of kidney stones developing.
Additionally, it is possible that long-term use of vitamin D and calcium supplements cause high calcium levels, which can contribute to kidney stones.
Additional risk factors for kidney stones include diets that are high in protein and sodium but low in calcium, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, high blood pressure, and conditions that affect how calcium is absorbed in the body such as gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic diarrhea.
Holistic Ways to Treat Kidney Stones
What Therapies Does Dr. Weil Recommend For Kidney Stones?
The best way to avoid kidney stones is to drink lots of water, at least six to eight glasses daily. The water dilutes the urine, reducing the risk of crystallization. You also should avoid food containing oxalate so that there will be less of it to join with calcium and form calcium oxalate. Foods high in oxalate include spinach, beet greens, nuts, chocolate, strawberries, rhubarb, Swiss chard, wheat germ, soybean crackers, okra, black Indian tea, sweet potatoes.
The following dietary measures can also help prevent stone formation:
• Avoid caffeine, which seems to increase urinary calcium.
• Decrease consumption of animal protein, especially red meat, which increases the risk of stone formation.
• Limit your salt intake (salt increases urinary calcium excretion).
• Consume potassium and bran fiber in foods, not supplements, because both can reduce urinary levels of calcium.
• Take calcium citrate, which may bind with oxalates in the intestines and be eliminated as calcium oxylate.
• Drink lemon juice in sparkling water, as lemon juice is a natural source of citrate.
Natural Ways to Dissolve Kidney Stones
This flushes out small kidney stones from your system. Strive to drink at least 2 to 3 quarts of water daily, or until your urine turns a light yellow color.
Sodium Bicarbonate or Baking Soda
Add baking soda to a 10-ounce glass of lukewarm water, stir well and drink two to three times a day to treat kidney stones.
You can also mix baking soda and 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar. Wait for the fizz to disappear before drinking the concoction. You should take this two to three times daily to dissolve the stones.
Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Combine 2 ounces of organic olive oil and 2 ounces of organic lemon juice. Drink this mixture straight, follow by a 12-ounce glass of purified water and wait for 30 minutes. Then, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into 12 ounces of purified water, add 1 tablespoon of organic raw apple cider vinegar and drink. Drink this once every hour until symptoms improve.
This wild plant18 is a known diuretic that helps with kidney waste removal.
Phyllanthus Niruri or Chanca Piedra
This herb disrupts kidney stone formation by preventing crystals from sticking together and changing their structure and composition. It’s also used to break kidney stones. In fact, this herb’s name means “stone breaker.”
Native Americans used this as a kidney stone remedy.
It’s a natural diuretic that assists with treating urinary tract infections, kidney stones and bladder infections.
A 500 milligram dose of dandelion root taken twice a day could help dissolve kidney stones.
A common folk remedy for kidney stones, Uva Ursi combats infection in the kidneys, cleanses the urinary tract and helps alleviate pain.
The sourness and astringent properties in organic pomegranates and/or freshly squeezed juice make these a good kidney stone remedy.
Apart from treating kidney and/or bladder stones, juniper boosts kidney function.
However, pregnant women and people with kidney infections must avoid juniper berries. Also, juniper berries shouldn’t be consumed continuously for more than four weeks.
Remove beans from the pods and boil these in purified hot water for six hours. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth and let cool. Drink this throughout the day to relieve kidney stone pain.
Drink three to four cups of horsetail tea or 2 grams of horsetail capsules daily to help treat kidney stones.
Mixing celery seed into tea or using it to spice your dishes could help inhibit kidney stone formation.
Combine a teaspoon of basil juice with raw honey and drink every day for six months to dissolve the stones.
Your Last Resort for Kidney Stone Treatment
If kidney stones still haven’t been released from the body because they are too big (around 6 to 7 millimeters in diameter or larger), your last resort is a kidney stone removal surgery. Your doctor will determine the procedure that is appropriate for your condition by checking for these conditions:
• Size and type of stone
• Patient’s medications
• Patient’s medical problems
• Patient preference
Any of these four kidney stone removal surgeries can be performed: shockwave lithotripsy (SWL), ureteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) and open surgery. However, make sure you exhaust all natural options before opting for surgery, and make sure that you’re familiar with the potential effects of these procedures.
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