Literally stones that form in the kidneys, kidney stones are made up of chemicals found in the urine, that clump together and form hard stones ranging in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. The kidney stones are mainly made up of calcium oxalate crystals, uric acid or cystine.
The urine contains a chemical, which usually prevents the formation of stones. However, there are some contributing factors, which can induce stone formation these include; recurrent urinary infections, metabolic diseases, some drugs, excess vitamin C or D and not drinking enough fluid.
The symptoms of kidney stones include nausea, vomiting and sharp severe pain in the lower back or abdomen. There may also be blood in the urine. An abdominal x-ray or ultrasound can confirm the presence of stones.
Smaller stones can pass through the body without additional treatment other than drinking lots of fluids. Some larger stones can be dissolved using specific medications. However, stones containing calcium cannot be dissolved in this way and are usually broken up into smaller pieces using Extra-corporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL).
This is a non-surgical technique whereby the individual is placed into a bath of water in which high energy shock waves are passed through, which break up the stones. Very large stones are usually removed by surgery. Reducing the intake of dairy products and red meat and increasing the fluid intake can help prevent further stone formation.
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