Healthcare has become more and more complicated. It can be challenging to know when to go to the hospital for kidney stones with so many options available. This article will help guide you in your decision-making process related to this common medical problem.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are solid formations that develop when chemicals in urine become concentrated and harden. The stones can vary in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. Kidney stones form in the kidneys, but they can travel down the urinary tract and cause pain or interfere with urination.
There are two main types of kidney stones as follows:
1. Calcium Stones
They account for about 80% of all kidney stones. As its name suggests, they are usually made of calcium oxalate but can also be calcium phosphate or calcium carbonate. Calcium stones often do not cause symptoms until they grow large. This can cause pain in the back or side that radiates to the groin. A person may also have nausea and vomiting.
2. Struvite stones
Are less common than calcium stones, but they can be more difficult to treat. Struvite stones form when urine becomes alkaline and ammonia-rich.
Causes of Kidney Stones
While the cause of kidney stones is not completely understood, certain factors may increase your risk. These include:
- Dehydration (being dehydrated increases the amount of calcium in your urine)
- Calcium in the urine (due to taking calcium supplements or from eating too much dairy)
- Diabetes (having high blood sugar levels can make it harder for kidneys to filter out minerals and waste products)
- Not drinking enough fluids or urinating frequently enough
4 Signs That You Have Kidney Stones
The following are indications of kidney stones:
- Sharp pain in the side of your back spreads to your groin or abdomen.
- Pain that feels like it’s spreading to your testicles or vagina.
- Frequent urge to urinate, but only small amounts come out at a time. Or, you may have trouble starting to urinate.
- Nausea and vomiting
When to Go to the ER for Kidney Stones
Call your doctor for urgent medical attention if the pain worsens or lasts longer than 48 hours.
As part of a kidney stone ER protocol, your doctor will need to look at the stone. This can be done by taking an X-ray or CT scan. A simple urine test may also be used to identify the presence of blood in the urine (hematuria). The urine test can also show if there is a high level of protein in the urine (proteinuria), which can signal infection.
Treatment for Kidney Stones
If you have had a kidney stone before, you are more likely to get another one.
Some people will wait for a kidney stone to pass without treatment. Others may need medicine or surgery to remove the stone. In some cases, both treatments are needed.
The goal of all treatment options is to keep the stone from coming back and causing pain again. Your doctor will help you decide which treatment is best for you.
A common medicine used to treat kidney stones is called potassium citrate. It is used to help prevent the formation of kidney stones, and it may also be used to treat kidney stones that have already formed. It can be taken in pill form or liquid form.
Potassium citrate helps prevent the formation of kidney stones by lowering the amount of calcium in your urine. Calcium oxalate stones are made up mostly of calcium and oxalate, so when you take potassium citrate, less calcium is available for your body to combine with oxalate. Less calcium oxalate means fewer stones.
The calcium in your body is not used to make the stone, so it’s not lost when you take potassium citrate.
Potassium citrate can help prevent future kidney stones from forming if you have had them before. This medication is most effective when taken with a low-oxalate diet and lots of water.
Surgical removal of kidney stones can be performed by board-certified practitioners if they are small and pass out in the urine. Surgical removal is also required for stones that cause an obstruction or become lodged in the ureter.
ER treatment for kidney stones
A large kidney stone can be treated by injecting a material called a contrast agent into the urinary tract. This helps your doctor to see the stone on an X-ray and decide if it can be removed or not. A large kidney stone that cannot be removed may need to be broken up with sound waves or crushed with medication.
Preventing Kidney Stones
Below are a few tips to prevent kidney stones
- Exercise. Exercise helps prevent kidney stones by helping to flush out excess calcium.
- Eat a healthy breakfast every day. Breakfast helps your body burn fat more efficiently and controls your appetite throughout the day. This can help prevent weight gain and excessive sugar intake, which can contribute to the development of kidney stones. Start your day with a bowl of cereal or an egg-white omelet with spinach and feta cheese.
- Drink lots of water. Dehydration can cause kidney stones, so drink at least eight glasses of water a day to help keep your body well hydrated. Also, make sure you are drinking enough fluids when you exercise.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce is high in potassium, which helps balance the calcium in your body and reduces the risk of developing kidney stones. Good sources include bananas, oranges, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, carrots, potatoes, and broccoli.
- Avoid certain foods. Although it is not clear why, people who have had kidney stones should avoid eating spinach, rhubarb, and beetroot as these may increase the risk of developing more stones.
- Limit your intake of salt and animal protein. Too much salt in your diet can lead to dehydration, which increases the risk of kidney stones. Also, if you eat a lot of animal protein (such as red meat), you will increase your risk of developing kidney stones.
- Avoid sugary drinks and sweetened foods.
- Get enough calcium in your diet. Calcium helps to prevent the formation of kidney stones. If you do not get enough calcium in your diet, you may need a supplement.
Can Urgent Care Treat Kidney Stones?
When you are suffering from kidney stones, it can be easy to assume that the best thing to do is wait until your next doctor’s appointment.
Unfortunately, this can mean that you’ll have a lot of kidney stone pain in-between visits and may even end up needing an expensive trip to the ER. To avoid these problems, contact Rapidcare Emergency right away!