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                  For Your Health
                        By:  Julie Millican, RN

          

Nurses tell patients who have a kidney stone that it is one of the most painful afflictions and liken it to labor!  If you have had a kidney stone or know someone who has, you would probably agree.  The kidneys remove extra water and waste from the blood and make urine.  If a kidney stone does not pass through the urinary system and gets stuck or blocks the flow of urine, extreme pain results and this may lead to kidney damage.

Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as big as a pearl.  Pain is a sharp, cramping pain in the side between the ribs and the hips called the flank area or in the lower abdomen.  There may be blood in the urine, pain on urination, nausea, and vomiting.  Pain usually occurs after the stone has left the kidney. 

Diagnosis is made through a CT scan or ultrasound.  For small stones, treatment may involve drinking lots of water and taking pain meds until it passes.  You may be asked to collect the urine or filter it through a paper cone (looks like a coffee filter).  The pain stops or diminishes greatly when it passes.

For larger stones (which are often made of calcium), you may need a hospital procedure called a lithotripsy to break up the stone into fine gravel so it can be passed.  A stent (small plastic tube) may be placed in the urinary tract to help pass the stone. If there is an associated urinary or kidney infection, then antibiotics will be prescribed.

Surgery is rare since other methods usually work.  People with a family history, as well as those with gout, may be more prone to kidney stones.  Some people form stones on a regular basis. Prevention is a hit and miss.  Altering the diet may help and some medicines can also help stop stones from forming. 

Remember to drink an adequate amount of water and to seek medical attention if these symptoms occur.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”                                                               Isaiah 40:29