Kidney Health Week, being held March 5th-11th 2018 is all about “not being blind to kidney disease” and raising awareness about kidney health across Australia. With over 1.7 million Australians aged 18 years and over (one in every ten adults) having signs of chronic kidney disease, it is important to be aware of kidney health.
Below we cover what Kidney stones are, who is at risk of getting them, what symptoms to look out for, what causes them and how to treat them.
What do kidneys do?
The role of the kidneys is often underrated when we think about our health.
In fact, the kidneys play a vital role in the daily workings of your body. They are so important that nature gave us two kidneys, to cover the possibility that one might be lost to an injury.
All you need to know about Kidney stones:
What are kidney stones?
The kidneys filter the blood and remove the extra waste and water as urine. Many waste chemicals are in the urine. They can sometimes form crystals that clump together to make stones.
Kidney stones are hard, rock-like crystals of varying sizes and shapes. They can range from as small as a grain of sand to as big as a golf ball.
Who is at risk of getting kidney stones?
Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. About four to eight per cent of Australians suffer from them at some time.
What are the symptoms of kidney stones?
Pain is typically the first sign of a kidney stone. Known as ‘renal colic’, the pain usually begins when a stone moves from where it has formed into the urinary tract.
This causes a gripping pain in the back, just below the ribs. It can spread around to the front of the body and sometimes towards the groin.
Other symptoms of a kidney stone include:
blood in your urine
nausea and vomiting
shivers, sweating and fever, with cloudy or bad smelling urine if there is also an infection
small uric acid stones, which look like gravel, in your urine
an urgent feeling of needing to urinate.
If you suspect you have kidney stones, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
What causes kidney stones?
In most cases there is no known reason why a kidney stone is formed. A stone can form when substances such as calcium, oxalate, cystine or uric acid are at high levels in the urine. Yet stones can also form if these chemicals are at normal levels.
A small number of people get kidney stones because of medical conditions, particularly those that can lead to elevated levels of calcium, oxalate, cystine or uric acid in the body.
How do you treat kidney stones?
Most kidney stones can be treated without surgery and will pass by themselves within three to six weeks. In this situation the only treatment required is pain relief.
Sometimes, however, pain can be so severe that hospital admission and very strong painkillers may be needed.
If a stone doesn’t pass and blocks urine flow, or causes bleeding or an infection, then it may need to be treated via surgery or other form. It is important to see your doctor.
A combination of drinking enough fluids, avoiding urinary infections, and specific treatment with medications will significantly reduce or stop new stone formation.
If you have any concerns about your kidney health, please visit our medical practice today.
Kidney Health Australia
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