Kidney stones: How they are formed and what is the cure
Modern lifestyle and changing food habits lead to kidney problems. Consequently, many other diseases of the organs, like heart, liver and urinary bladder, occur. Even youngsters, between 35 to 50 years of age affected. Their energy is sapped in old age. An estimated one out of five persons suffers from kidney problems.

What then is the importance of kidneys in the body? How do they function? What are the diseases of the kidney? How to cure them? Let us learn:

Kidneys are placed on either side the spine, on the lower back. They have lakhs of tiny filters called nephrons, which are further divided into glomarulous and tubules. While the former filters toxic chemicals and substances from the blood, the latter further filters unsaturated waste material from the blood, before supply.  The wastes are sent to the bladder in the form of urine to be removed. If kidneys malfunction, the blood is not purified and sometimes this might lead to death.

Functions of kidneys

1. The main function of the kidneys is to purify the blood, through filtering of toxic and waste material, before supply to other parts of the body
2. The kidneys also produce hormones that help in production of red blood cells, strengthen bones and control blood pressure.

 The kidneys purify at least 110 to 145 litres of blood and produce at least one to two litres of urine per day. At a given moment, there are only 4.5 to 5 litres of blood in the body. However, it circulates from 20 to 30 times a day, supplying oxygen to each and every cell and gets back to the kidneys to be purified, each time.

Causes of kidney diseases

Most common reason is consumption of wrong foods, lifestyle changes, high blood pressure, blood sugar, urinary infection, etc. Consumption of snacks is conscious decision that is become one of the reasons for kidney malfunction these days. Kidney diseases are not easily diagnosed and one chronic, they lead to kidney failure. Excess consumption of calcium and Vitamin C causes stones in the kidney. Kidney stones could also be inherited.

Kidney diseases can also lead to similar conditions in the urinary bladder. The bladder could also be affected with bacterial infection, leading to serious cases like Kidney cancer. This condition is also called Renal Cell Carcinoma.

Other diseases that could affect the functioning of the kidneys are Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), urinary tract infection and Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

Kidney stones and complications

Kidney stones are formed due to the hardening of unfiltered chemical waste. Stones in the kidney could also be inherited from a person already suffering with the disease in the family. If no precautions are taken, stones could recur even after surgery.  Excess of chemicals like calcium, oxalate, urate, phosphate and cystin that is retained in the kidneys form kidney stones. These are not washed out normally mainly because of low quantity of water.  They eventually harden in to stones.

Kidney stones could either be as tiny as sand particles to the size of a lime. The tiny stones can be removed through consumption of excess water. But the bigger one blocks the kidneys or the blood vessels and cause severe pain, burning sensation while passing urine and sometimes bleeding.

Who are prone to kidney stones?

People who consume less water and excess of salt or sugar and proteins are liable to have kidney stones. Also, kidney stones are formed on consumption of excess calcium supplements, alcohol or medicines for treating gastric diseases. Kidney stones are also inherited.

Stones could be of different types like Oxalate stones, uric acid stones, calcium stones or struvite stones. Chances are that 19 per cent of men and nine per cent of women could be affected by kidney stones.

Symptoms of kidney, gall stones

Anyone in the age group of 20 to 50 years is prone to kidney stones. Suspected cases could suffer from severe, one-sided lower back pain that telegraphs to the lower abdomen. There is pain while urinating, with streaks of blood in urine. In extreme cases it could lead to severe fatigue, vomiting and fever.
Kidneys stones can be detected through blood and urine tests, in which the calcium and uric acid levels are abnormal. A CT scan will show whether the stones are in the kidney or stuck in some blood vessels. The severity of the disease can also be detected through CT scan.

Methods of removal of kidney stones

Kidney stones, in the preliminary stage can be flushed out with consumption of excess water. Stones could be washed away or melted, in the early stages if they are in the kidneys. Though the medicines have to be taken on a long term basis and strict diet has to be followed, stones could be cured permanently.

Shock wave lythotrypsy is used to blasts bigger stones, especially those blocking blood vessels. The stones can be blasted with Laser treatment, wherein the smaller pieces are washed away. However, surgical removal of stones is necessary in extreme cases.

The disease can be prevented by consuming large quantities of water, i.e. two to three litres per day. In his research paper, an American, Dr. Buck Parker stated that a majority of kidney diseases occur due to poor consumption of water and dehydration. On the other hand, excess intake of carbonated drinks, caffeine, alcohol, using tobacco products like cigarettes etc., also lead to malfunction of kidneys.

Persistent intake of vitamins like B12 and B9 (folic acid) and A, also lead to kidney stones, says Dr. Christrine Arthur of American Orange Coast Memorial Medical Centre.

Kidney stones could be prevented mainly through dietary changes, like consuming less salt, fat and meat and more vegetables and fruits.

What food should be avoided for which kind of stones is also very important. As the types of kidney stones are identified through blood and urine tests it easy to identify them.

Kidney infections

Kidney infections are caused by bacteria. They first enter the bladder through urethra and from there they pass on to the kidneys. Thus kidneys are infected.  If they are not detected and cured early, infections could lead to complete damage of the kidneys.

Chronic Kidney Diseases

Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD) are those that affect the health of the individual, over long term kidney diseases. Such a person might suffer high blood pressure and fatigue. The damaged kidneys stop functioning altogether, requiring immediate treatment.

CKD might sometimes lead to death. The manifestation of the disease is in the narrowed blood vessels that fail to filter the blood properly. Toxicity in the blood increases, leading to slow deterioration of health. People with high BP and diabetes suffer from CKD. The symptoms of the disease are not prominent and by the time it is detected sometimes it is too late.

The symptoms of the disease are:  extreme fatigue, swollen eyes, no appetite and sleep, etc.

It can be diagnosed through Estimated Globarular Filtration Rate Test (EGFRT) that gives the levels of creatinine in the blood. Albunin Creatinine percentage can be known through ACR or micro albumin tests. Ultra sound, CT scan etc. will determine the condition of the kidneys and say if there are any tumours.

Through a small piece of the kidneys, biopsy can be conducted to determine the extent of damage and the necessary treatment.

CKD can be treated only through bringing down hypertension and diabetes. Exercise is a must. Infections can be cured with antibiotics. Dialysis is the ultimate treatment for damaged kidneys.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

This manifests as cysts in the kidneys. It is a genetic disorder. Usually it is not detected until very late. It is detected through ultra sonography, computed tomography and MRI scanning. Those affected have to undergo kidney transplant or lifelong dialysis.

At least 30 per cent of those affected with PKD will develop cysts in the liver. Though liver functioning is not affected, the blood vessels will weaken and will not be able to supply blood to the brain and heart well. Paralysis might occur.

Two types of genetic disorders result in PKD. If it is in the dominant genes, the disease will not show up until early youth. But in the case of recessive genes it will show up even in childhood.


When both the kidneys are damaged, dialysis is done to purify the blood. The equipment that is used to purify the blood is called haemodialyser. The apparatus is attached to a blood vessel, either at the shoulder or legs of the patient. Blood is flowed into the apparatus, purified and then sent back.

Peritorial dialyser is another kind of dialysis, which implies, arranging the haemodialyser , inside the abdominal region, along with a tube carrying a solution called 'dialysate.' It works like an artificial nephron and filters the toxic material continuously.

The filling of the dialysate into the tube is done manually or using a material called 'cycler.' It removes and fills the dialysate automatically.
Thu, Dec 01, 2016, 12:23 PM
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