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Our urinary tract consists of kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. All these parts of the UT help in smooth urination. However kidney stones create hurdles for this process. These solid masses made of microscopic crystals or the size of potatoes may be of different shapes. Kidney stones or renal calculi may be found in the bladder, kidneys or the urethra. Large numbers of people across the globe suffer from this problem.   

Our kidneys are responsible for filtration of blood by removing waste and excessive water that turns into urine. Urine from the kidneys flows to the bladder through ureter, the tube that drains the urine that contains the dissolved chemicals. Then it flows out of the body through urethra. Many times the chemicals turn into small crystals that form small stones known as kidney stones.

Symptoms – Kidney stones may be associated with pain. Side of the abdomen may be affected with acute pain. A stone passed into the ureter may cause painful sensations every now and then. Constant pain is also the symptom of kidney stone. The pain may expand to the groin or to the lower abdomen. Sickness or sweating may also be caused due to kidney stone. Urine may turn red because of contents of blood due to rubbing of the stone against the ureter. Kidney stones may result in urine infection and high fever too. Increased urges for urination may also be the signs. 

Causes – Concentration of urine may be the cause of kidney stone. High levels of chemicals in the body, i.e. cystine, uric acid, oxalate or calcium could be the culprits responsible for kidney stone. Medicines for chemotherapy or for cancer, water tablets (diuretics) and those for HIV may also be responsible for this problem. Recurrent urine or kidney infections may also be behind kidney stones. It can occur because of kidneys with cysts or scars on it.

Diagnosis and Treatment – X-rays and scans of the kidneys and the ureters may be necessitated to examine the presence of stones. Blood tests may be required to test the quantum of uric acid, calcium and other chemicals. Urine test may also be required to assess infection or crystals. Tiny kidney stones may go out along with the urine. But the ones that sticks in the kidneys or the ureter cause acute pain and need to be treated in proper manners. Patients may be required to undergo ESWL, i.e. extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy that involves high-energy shock waves through a machine meant for breaking the stones from outside the body. The broken small pieces of stones get removed through the urine. Another method is PCNL, i.e. percutaneous nephrolithotomy that involves passing of a think telescope-like tool into the kidney through the skin. It helps to break the stones. Ureteroscopy is another method of treating the kidney stones. Large pieces of stones may be removed with the help of traditional operation. Patients are advised to take plenty of fluids to get rid of the toxins. Those living or working in hot environments must drink sufficient water after frequent intervals.

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