Common name/Other name
Kidney stones; urinary calculi; renal calculi; renal lithiasis (Eng.)
Nephrolithiasis is a condition of the urinary system that manifests with insoluble stones known as kidney stones. The urine naturally contains crystals of salt. Certain conditions cause these crystals to precipitate and solidify forming kidney stones. The crystals usually contain calcium oxalate, uric acid, and calcium phosphate. Kidney stones form inside the kidneys and can affect any part of the urinary tract. Most kidney stones do not present any symptoms. However, when a kidney stone blocks a narrow passage like the ureter, intense pain is felt by the patient. Some of the conditions that cause the precipitation of crystals include ingestion of excess calcium, low water intake, abnormal pH of the urine, and overactive parathyroid glands.
Types of Kidney Stones:
- Calcium stones are the most common kidney stones. The usual composition of calcium stones is calcium oxalate. Oxalate is produced by the liver daily. It is also common in food like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and chocolates. Another possible composition of calcium stones is calcium phosphate. Conditions that affect metabolism, migraine headaches, and taking seizure medications increase the risk of forming stones of calcium phosphate.
- Struvite stones or infection stones form when there is an infection in the urinary system. It can suddenly increase in size without warning signs.
- Uric acid stones are common in people with low fluid intake or lose too much fluid. People on a high protein diet or have gouty arthritis are also prone to uric acid stone formation.
- Cysteine stones form in people with cystinuria wherein the kidneys excrete the amino acid cysteine in excess.
Some cases of kidney stones are diagnosed during radiographic tests for another condition. Some cases are diagnosed when the physician orders diagnostic tests upon the appearance of signs and symptoms. Blood testing indicates the levels of calcium and uric acid in the blood. Urine testing measures the amount of stone-forming minerals or stone-preventing substances present in the urine. Radiographic imaging tests can show the kidney stones in the urinary tract.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
- Pain relievers are given when passing of a small stone causes discomfort and pain. Mild pain is usually relieved by ibuprofen, paracetamol, and naproxen.
- Alpha blockers or calcium channel blockers can be given to relax the muscles of the ureter when passing kidney stones. A relaxed ureter allows the kidney stones to pass more quickly and with less pain.
- Potassium citrate or sodium citrate are given to dissolve uric acid stones.