Fertility issues are very common. This infographic from Austin Urology Institute explains the state of fertility in the United States.

July 21, 2016

If you’ve ever experienced a kidney stone, it’s probably not something you want to repeat. Some people say it’s the pain equivalent of birthing a child. We’ve had some patients say they would rather give birth again. However, kidney stone problems don’t stop with pain. In certain cases, kidney stones can be extra nasty. If you experience any of these kidney stone nightmares, call us right away. 

Stuck Kidney Stone

When a kidney stone forms, it can sit and grow in the kidney for months to years. When it decides to take the dive down the ureter is typically when people are banging on the doors to the emergency room. Most people can pass a stone up to 5mm on their own. However, sometimes kidney stones get stuck. 

Kidney stones that are larger 5mm or irregularly shaped have a higher chance of getting stuck in the ureter. To get the stone moving, sometimes the doctor will put you on Flomax or Rapaflo to dilate the ureter and see if you can pass it on your own over a week or so, with pain medicine, of course. If you’re unable to pass it, surgical removal of the stone is necessary.

Kidney Stones and UTIs

Kidney stones can cause urinary tract infections (UTI) or make current UTIs worse. Bacteria can attach to the stone causing repetitive UTIs, giving you two painful situations instead of just one. 

Kidney Stones Can Damage Kidneys

If a kidney stone sits in the ureter, hydronephrosis can occur. Hydro-ne- what?? Hydronephrosis is swelling of the ureter most likely caused by a blockage (aka a stone) that results in urine back flowing to the kidney. Once the blockage is removed, the hydronephrosis will resolve. If the blockage is not removed, the urine back flow to the kidney will result in damage to the kidney and possibly loss of a kidney.

Preventing Kidney Stone Nightmares

The first step to avoiding kidney stones is awareness of who is at risk. A family history of kidney stones is a good indicator that you might get one someday. Pregnancy also increases your risk for kidney stones. Those who drink soft drinks, coffee, and tea like they’re going out of style are also at an increased risk.

Obesity and poor diet can cause concentration of the urine, which leads to crystals formation. These crystals eventually become kidney stones.

You can reduce your kidney stone risk by making a few changes to your diet. Excess sodium in your urine leads to excess calcium, one of the key ingredients in a kidney stone. Lowering sodium intake is crucial to staving off kidney stones. Reduce sodium by avoiding fast food, eating out at restaurants, and processed foods. Reading the nutrition facts on the back of food items as well as looking at restaurant menus prior to ordering can help make healthier decisions. 

Other dietary changes for kidney stone prevention include drinking plenty of water (about 64 oz. per day), minimal to moderate caffeine intake (1-2 small caffeinated beverages per day), decreasing red meat, and increasing citrate (add 1-2 teaspoon lemon juice to water each day). Avoiding oxalate rich foods is also part of prevention. These foods include spinach, nuts (peanuts in particular), strawberries, black pepper, and tea to name a few. Exercise is also important.

We do not wish a kidney stone upon anyone but if you find yourself in the ER or in the fetal position with back pain, abdominal pain, blood in the urine, or any suspicions of a kidney stone; give us a call.