Kidney stones are primarily small and hard deposits that are formed within your kidneys and are made of acid salts and minerals. They are also called nephrolithiasis, renal calculi, or urolithiasis. The minerals and salts stick together in concentrated urine to form kidney stones, and they often cause extreme pain when passed through the urinary tract. The pain in the abdomen, usually on the side, is the typical symptom of kidney stones, which is often connected with nausea.

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

The common kidney stone symptoms are pain on the sides of the abdomen and nausea or vomiting.

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of kidney stones:

  • Flank or back pain
  • Both flank and back pain
  • Sensation of burn while you pass urine
  • Urination more often than normal
  • Traces of blood in the urine
  • Fever or weariness
  • Nausea

However, kidney stones are prone to cause other serious complications like:

  • In some cases, it may cause severe infections, including septicemia or poisoning of the blood, which can be critical
  • Kidney stones may also damage your kidneys by causing renal scarring. In this case, the patient may go through permanent kidney failure
  • In extreme cases, kidney stones may also cause the kidney to stop functioning, which may result in kidney removal
  • If there is a large stone in your kidneys that has passed through the bladder and gets stuck in the urethra, it may result in painful urinary retention.

How kidney stones are formed?

Kidney stones are formed when the urine that passes through your kidneys becomes concentrated. Because of the concentrated urine, calcium, acid salts, and other chemicals that generally dissolve in the urine become crystallized, creating kidney stones that usually look like tiny pebbles.

Causes of kidney stones:

  • Some possible causes of kidney stones are drinking less water, obesity, consuming excess amounts of salt or sugar in food, and weight loss surgery.
  • Besides, family history and other infections may also cause kidney stones in some people.
  • Too much consumption of fructose found in table sugar and corn syrup is also associated with the risk of kidney stones.

What are the different types of kidney stones? 

Kidney stones are categorized into four main types. They are:

1. Calcium oxalate:

This is the common type of stone formed in your kidney. It is created when your urine combines calcium and oxalate. The condition is attributed to insufficient calcium as well as fluid intake along with other conditions.

2. Uric acid:

Another stone formed in the kidneys is uric acid, a natural chemical compound caused by food high in purines. Shellfish and organ meats are known to have high concentrations of purines. Excess intake of purines causes the excess production of monosodium urate, which in turn may form kidney stones. This may be due to family history.

3. Struvite:

These stones are rarely formed, mainly due to infections caused in the upper urinary tract.

4. Cystine:

Similar to struvite, cysteines are rare stones that are caused by a family history.

Do all kidney stones require treatment? How are kidney stones treated? 

Kidney stones may often pass through urine on their own, especially when the stone sizes are 4mm or less. However, you may need treatment if the stones are:

  • 6mm or above in size
  • If they do not pass on their own, even after a period of one or two months
  • If they cause intense pain

Pain relievers and consuming plenty of water can help pass the stone. However, in general, you may have to go through medical procedures to remove larger stones.

As per the location and size of the stone, one of the many nonsurgical or minimally invasive kidney stone treatment techniques may be adopted to remove the stones.

When to seek medical help for kidney stone treatment?

You must see a doctor if you see any severe signs and symptoms like:

  • Severe kidney stone pain making it difficult to sit still or in a comfortable position
  • Severe pain together with nausea and vomiting
  • Or if the pain is accompanied by chills and fever
  • If you see blood in your urine
  • If you find it difficult to pass urine, you must seek help for kidney stone removal

Options to remove kidney stones

Four main non-invasive procedures are used to remove kidney stones depending on the size and location of the stone. They are:

  • Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery (RIRS)
  • Ureterorenoscopic Lithotripsy (URSL) with Holmium Laser
  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
  • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL) Procedure

1. Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery:

Kidney stones can be removed through Ureterorenoscopy using a flexible ureteroscope called RIRS.

2. Ureterorenoscopic Lithotripsy (URSL) with Holmium Laser:

In this process, a flexible, thin device called Ureteroscope is used to remove the stones in the kidney. Here, Holmium energy is transmitted using laser fiber to break the stones in the kidney and remove them, while the tiny pieces pass through urine.

3. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy:

This is a non-invasive procedure that uses non-electrical shockwaves to break kidney stones and help them pass through urine.

4. Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL) Procedure:

Under this procedure, a tiny incision is made in the side/back to insert a nephroscope to remove the kidney stones. If the stones are larger, they are broken down using shock waves or lasers.

Home Remedies to cure kidney stones

Many people turn to home remedies to treat and remove kidney stones. One of the best remedies for kidney stones is staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. It helps in passing the stone faster. However, it is best to consult your doctor if you are willing to try any home remedies for your kidney stone. Below are some common home remedies to remove kidney stones:

Some popular home remedies for kidney stone

1. Water:

It is vital to enhance your daily water intake if you have kidney stones. As per studies, a kidney stone patient should have enough water to pass 2 liters of urine daily. Dehydration is the key factor in forming kidney stones.

2. Lemon juice:

Lemon juice or freshly squeezed lemon to your diet is another home remedy to break stones in the kidney. Lemons have citrate that prevents the formation of calcium stones and breaks them into pieces to pass through urine easily.

3. Apple cider vinegar:

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar helps dissolve kidney stones easily and eases the pain caused by the stones. You can consume apple cider vinegar by mixing it with water to remove kidney stones.

4. Pomegranate juice:

Pomegranate is rich in antioxidants and thus helps in aiding kidney health. Moreover, pomegranate juice is safe and healthy. So, you can consume it daily.

Also read :~ Health Benefits of Pomegranate

5. Kidney bean broth:

You can also consume the broth from the cooked beans. It is also said to improve kidney health.

6. Celery juice:

Celery is also used as a traditional kidney stone medicine used to remove stones. You can consume it by blending celery with water and drinking the juice after straining.

7. Basil juice:

You may also use fresh basil leaves to prepare tea or drink basil water to help pass kidney stones.

Other Natural Remedies for kidney stone

1. Dandelion:

A dandelion plant has certain parts that are said to remove waste, including increased urine output. Some studies show that dandelions can remove stones in the kidneys. However, it is important to seek medical supervision from your doctor if you want to use these herbal remedies for kidney stones.

2. Wheatgrass juice:

Wheatgrass juice is another herbal remedy that helps increase the flow of urine to help the stones pass and cleanse the kidneys too. Again, seeking medical help is necessary before using these remedies.

3. Horsetail plant:

This plant is also used to increase the flow of urine and is said to have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. However, some people may be allergic to it, or it may have side effects. Hence, consulting a doctor is important.

Complications of untreated kidney stones

So, what happens if kidney stones are not removed? Are there any long-term complications?

It varies from person to person. Some people may have had kidney stones for years, and they are not causing any issues. In many cases, these stones pass through urine on their own. In some cases, people may feel a certain amount of pain.

However, in other cases, untreated kidney stones may block the ureters and cause the urine to build up, causing infections or UTIs. This may also damage the kidney and may cause kidney failure in extreme cases. Hence, to avoid complications and other risks in the long term, it is better to remove the kidney stones through proper treatment.

How to prevent kidney stones from occurring?

The best way to prevent kidney stones from occurring is to drink plenty of water or to increase the daily intake of water and fluids. Try to avoid getting dehydrated to prevent stones from returning. Drink at least 3 liters of water/fluid every day.

If your urine appears light yellow to clear in color, it implies that you are well hydrated. Also, limit the consumption of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Consume more fruits and vegetables to make your urine less acid to limit the formation of stones.

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It is possible to pass small kidney stones on your own with home remedies or herbal processes. However, if you are diagnosed with larger stones, you should consider seeing the doctor and getting proper treatment. This may need the person to be admitted to the hospital as well. Hence, having enough coverage from a health insurance plan is important to seek cashless and smooth treatment without worrying about expenses.

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FAQs: What is Kidney Stones?

Can children get kidney stones?

Yes, children can also have kidney stones caused mainly due to not consuming enough fluids and eating high-salt food items.

Can kidney stones (pathri in Hindi) be cured by home remedies?

It is possible to pass small kidney stones on your own with home remedies or herbal processes. However, if you are diagnosed with larger stones, you should consider seeing the doctor.

How to pass a kidney stone in 24 hours?

Drinking lots of fluids, especially plain water and citrus juices, may help in passing kidney stones.

What are kidney stone symptoms in females?

The symptoms of kidney stones are the same in males and females. We have mentioned the symptoms in the post above.

What are the foods to eat for kidney stones?

The best foods for people with kidney stones are lemons, oranges, milk, legumes and nuts, lentils, peas, beans, rice and oats, broccoli, and, of course, water.

What are the first signs of kidney stones?

Some symptoms include pain in the lower back, blood in urine, dark urine color, foul smell in urine, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills, etc.

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