Kidney stones are an unfortunately common disorder, with a yearly incidence of eight per 1,000 adults, and overall prevalence of one in 11 Americans. The most common age to develop them is around midlife. As kidney stones can be very painful and distressing, and resemble conditions requiring emergency care, we must rule out other causes of their symptoms so we know what we’re dealing with.
How Do We Differentiate Between Kidney Stones and Other Conditions?
When kidney stones are large enough to cause symptoms, they lead to intermittent, cramping abdominal and side pain. This happens as they travel down the ureter, from the kidney to the bladder. Nausea vomiting, fever, chills and overall feeling like garbage often accompany the pain. Seeing a doctor is recommended, as physical examination can rule out other problems such as twisting of the testicles, ectopic pregnancy, urinary tract infections, and muscle inflammation or spasms.
Why is it so important to be properly examined? Fever and chills are general responses to infection; while nausea and vomiting can be a non-specific response to pain or be caused by a gastrointestinal illness, or obstruction in the intestines or urinary system. Painful urination may indicate inflammation in the bladder, prostate or vagina, while blood in urine could indicate something as serious as cancer or kidney disease. Additionally, the location of pain overlaps with hernia; severe infections, such as pelvic inflammatory disease; gallbladder stones; or even a leaking aneurysm.
Kidney stones on the right side can be mistaken for appendicitis until a full examination. Appendicitis is more likely to cause a fever and nausea, and will increase inflammatory markers in the blood unlike kidney stones. The vast majority of people with kidney stones have blood in their urine, which may be only detectable through pathology testing, unlike appendicitis cases.
Risk Factors of Kidney Stones
Of course, having one or more risk factors for kidney stones makes a diagnosis more likely. A personal or family history of kidney stones, particularly if your first one developed at a young age, raises your chance of getting them. Certain genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, and some physical abnormalities like ureteral stricture also put you at risk. Chronic illnesses that affect nutrient absorption, hyperparathyroidism and sarcoidosis are other diseases associated with kidney stones.
The most common causes of kidney stones are low water intake, obesity, gout, high blood pressure, overeating, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. For these reasons, increasing your water intake and weight loss are advised to help prevent a recurrence. High intakes of oxalates can contribute to calcium-based kidney stones, which are found in spinach, wheat bran, peanuts, chocolate, strawberries, beets and some nuts. Fat increases their absorption, while calcium blocks them. Boiling spinach also removes roughly two-thirds of oxalates.
Conventional treatment of kidney stones generally involves pain relief until they have passed, or surgery if they are too large (usually over 10mm). Nutraflo goes the extra mile, with a blend of herbs aimed at flushing out the kidneys; soothing pain and inflammation; and helping to break up the stones so they can pass more easily.