Speaking of Health – Kidney stones

By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC

Kidney stones are common problem seen in both men and women, with one in 20 people developing them within their lifetime.  Men describe kidney stones as painful as trying to pass a watermelon, and women describe them as comparable to childbirth.

Kidney stones are formed when there is a decrease in the volume of urine produced or an excess of certain stone-forming minerals in the urine.  The risk for forming kidney stones increases when a person becomes dehydrated, or has other medical conditions such as gout, or takes certain medications or supplements.

The most common symptom is severe abdominal pain usually on one side, as well as nausea.  The pain may worsen with urination and there may be small amounts of blood visible in the urine as well.  Because the pain is usually severe, pain control is of the utmost importance, followed by hydration in the form of several bags of normal saline.   The patient may also be given a dose of tamsulosin, or Flomax, a well-known medication prescribed for prostate problems and works by relaxing the ureters from the kidneys as well as the urethra.

The diagnosis is made through the use of CT and the patient usually passes the stone or stones within several hours.  In rare cases, the patient may need to undergo a procedure called extracorporeal shockwave therapy or laser lithotripsy to remove the stone.  It is not unusual for patients to have recurrent bouts especially if they do not drink enough water.


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