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Kidney stones: causes, treatment and prevention

Kidney stones are also known as urolithiasis  or  nephrolithiasis. It is caused by the presence of stones  inside the kidneys or urinary tract which are the ureters or bladder. The  kidney stones  are composed of normal components in the urine. However, due to several reasons, the urine components become concentrated and solidified into fragments to form stones. The name of the stone is dependent on where the stones are formed and located (Kidney or bladder). Hence, it can be called either a kidney stone or bladder stone.

CAUSES 

Kidney stones can occur if  the urine is saturated with salts that can likely produce them, or because of the absence of the natural inhibitors of stone formation in the urine. 

Some other factors that causes formation of kidney stones are:

  • Dehydration or a decrease in urinary volume.
  • An rise in the urinary excretion of chemicals that hinders the dissolution of salts in the urine.

SYMPTOMS 

The symptoms that come with kidney stones depend on the size, composition and location of the stones in the urinary system. However, the presence of some stones show no symptoms and may go unnoticed.

Stones that do not cause symptoms can be discovered during a routine microscopic urine test. Contrarily, stones that cause pain are generally diagnosed by the symptoms of renal colic ,  discomfort in the lower back and groin or pain in the genital area, for no apparent reason.

Additionally, the microscopic urine analysis can reveal the presence of blood or pus, as well as small crystals in the urine.

Some of the visible symptoms are:

 1. Nephritic colic : Pain in the lumbar region or lower back that radiates towards the anterior abdomen and towards the genitals; It occurs as a result of  the blockage of the urine outlet from the kidney.

It is a periodic pain that could be associated with  nausea , vomiting , sweating and abdominal bloating .

2.  Hematuria : It occurs as a result of the damage caused by the stone in its passage through the urinary tract. It is characterized by blood in the urine. The blood in the urine ranges from very obvious to not visible at all.

3. Urine infections : Kidney stones could also cause frequent urinary infections or  cystitis .

PREVENTION 

One of the ways to prevent this condition is to avoid  excessive intake of phosphate, calcium, oxalate and purines .

In addition, there are other nutritional measures that can prevent this condition. such as

  •  increasing the intake of fluids , preferably water. Drinking enough water is one of the best ways to prevent kidney stones.
  • It is necessary to follow a low calorie diet with little salt, reducing animal proteins, sugar and alcohol . Chocolate, spinach,  tea, and most nuts are rich in oxalate, which can increase the risk of kidney stones. Hence, small quantities  should be consumed.

TYPES  OF KIDNEY STONES 

There are different types of stones depending on the composition of the stones. These most common types are:

Kidney stones.

1.Kidney stones formed by calcium oxalate : They are the most common forms of stones. They are made of calcium and organic acid. 

2.Kidney stones  made up of calcium phosphate:This form of kidney stone is mainly composed of calcium phosphate. This type of salt combines calcium and phosphorus .

3. Kidney stones made of  uric acid: Uric acid is a compound formed when the body breaks down substances called purines in the digestive system. These are found in some foods and drinks. Some food substances with high purine content include seafood, sweetened beverages, alcohol and organ meat. 

4. Kidney stones derived from protein breakdown  : These types of stones are the most common in childhood.

TREATMENTS 

95% of stones found in the ureter area of the kidney pass easily in about four weeks, depending on their size and position. 

Stones that could not be evacuated in about months require medical attention. The specialist will determine the most suitable treatment considering some factors, such as the frequency of colic episodes, impact on the urinary tract, etc.

Currently, between 90 and 95 percent of stones can be removed by simple procedures, such as  extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy , which consists of breaking the stones into small fragments that can pass out easily. Furthermore, endoscopic removal of stones by  ureteroscopy  (through the urinary ducts , urethra, bladder, etc.) is also very common.In special circumstances, larger stones causing an obstruction may require surgery to be removed.

CONCLUSION 

Kidney stones could be painful, but predominantly, they can be eliminated from the body without causing any symptom or damage to the body. However,  these stones may reappear  if the cause that led to their appearance is not treated.

In addition, the patient may be at risk of urinary tract infections or kidney damage, in the most severe cases if not treated properly. 

Who do kidney stones affect? Let’s discuss 

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Hiccups are recurroluntary contractions of the diaphra The diaphragm muscle is located between the chest from the abdomen region. The diaphragm muscle aids breathing. During inspiration, the diaphragm contracts to allow oxygen into the lungs while during expiration it relaxes to release carbon oxide out of the lungs. Hiccups occur when the diaphragm contracts out of rhythm. Each contraction of the diaphragm causes sudden closure of the vocal cords and larynx. This brings about an abrupt rush of air into the lungs. Due to this, the body reacts with a gasp producing the sound of a hiccup. The medical name for hiccups is called synchronous diaphragmatic flutter or singultus. CAUSES The most common causes of short-term hiccups include: 1. Drinking Carbonated beverages Carbonated beverages cause the stomach to expand. The expansion of the stomach can irritate the diaphragm. This causes involuntary contraction of the diaphragm thereby resulting in hiccups. Alcohol causes stomach acid to rise up in the esophagus. This irritates the nerve that controls the diaphragm (known as phrenic nerve). This causes the diaphragm to contract out of rhythm hence, hiccups. 2. Overeating Overeating causes stomach distention and may irritate the esophagus. This puts external pressure on the diaphragm. Thus, this effect irritates the nerve that controls the diaphragm and causes it to contract. Therefore, it triggers hiccups. 3 Consuming alcohol. Most alcoholic beverages are carbonated (Infused with carbon dioxide). This irritates the diaphragm and expands the stomach. For this reason, results in hiccups. 4. Chewing gum. Chewing gum can cause a person to swallow air. Thereby causing hiccups. 5.Excitement or emotional stress Anxiety or emotional stress causes may stimulate the nerve that controls the diaphragm. This could lead to hiccups. 6.Sudden change in air temperature This can occur as a result of drinking hot or cold beverages.This sudden change can irritate the esophagus and cause hiccups. 7.Consuming spicy food Spicy foods contain a chemical compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin is an irritant that activates neurons in the diaphragm, which contracts and results in hiccups. Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours can be caused by several factors which include: 1. Irritation of the nerves of the diaphragm. Gastroesophageal reflux, ulcers of the stomach or duodenum. 2. Diseases of the central nervous system- Stroke, multiple sclerosis 3. Diabetes 4.Electrolyte imbalance 5. Medicines: Anesthetics used in general anesthesia, corticosteroids, tranquilizers. 6. Cancer 7.Kidney failure 8.Parkinson’s disease TREATMENT Hiccups are not something serious to worry about. However, persistent prolonged hiccups could make us quite uncomfortable and may hinder our daily activities as well as speech and sleep. Short term hiccup would eventually stop on its own. Furthermore, contact your doctor if hiccups become prolonged and persistent for proper treatment.
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