Kidney stones are an excruciatingly painful medical condition that can attack without warning. Once you have had a kidney stone you have an increased risk of recurrence. Several of my female patients have told me that the pain is worse than labor. Calcium stones make up the majority of kidney stones.
Calcium oxalate is made by your liver and is naturally occurring in your body. Developing stones may have no definitive cause but there are things that can increase your chance of having stones. They include personal or family history of stones, a high-protein and/or high salt diet, high sugar intake, nuts, chocolate, dehydration and obesity. Ingesting too much vitamin D can also increase your risk. Calcium oxalate crystals start to clump together to form stones. The crystals are very, very sharp and slice at the kidneys, the ureters, (the tubes that lead away from the kidney into the bladder) and the bladder itself.
Imagine small little paper cuts in those areas as the stones travel down the urinary tract that is filled with urine. That’s why small stones can cause excruciating pain. Symptoms include blood in the urine, urinating frequently in small amounts, the feeling of needing to urinate and unable to, pain in the back that can travel to the abdomen on either side, and lower abdominal pain.
Vomiting, nausea and sweating can also occur. Treatment includes IV fluids, pain meds, and anti-nausea medication if needed. If stones are so big they cause a blockage lithotripsy (ultrasonic shockwave therapy) can break the stone up into much smaller stones so they can pass. Surgery may also be an option.
Staying well hydrated is important. Foods that can promote kidney health and reduce the risk of stones are basil, apples, celery, and pomegranate. Vitamin B6 supplements have also proven helpful.