Kidney stones – the most important facts

Around 5 percent of all adults in Germany have kidney stones. But how are you born and how can you get rid of them?

It is hard to imagine for laymen that proper stones can form in the body. But anyone who has already suffered from kidney stones knows that this can happen. Kidney stone, medically referred to as nephrolites (Greek nephros = kidney, lithos = stone), are deposits in the kidney ducts or in the urinary tract. Often they are also referred to as ureter and bladder stones.

Origin of kidney stones

There are many causes for the formation of kidney stones. Mostly, the concentration of certain substances in the urine is too large. The main causes include dehydration, a poor diet, lack of exercise and various metabolic disorders. Hereditary factors also play a major role in the formation of kidney stones. But in most cases, one can not find a clear cause for nephrolith formation. Especially affected are men between 25 and 40 years.

Like every stone, kidney stones are made of minerals. For kidney stones, it is calcium, phosphate, oxalate or cystine. In a healthy person, these substances are excreted in the urine. But if the concentration is too high or the minerals can not be properly excreted, crystals form. Gradually, the crystal layers overlap, until the right on the principle of onions have grown up. And if you do not go against the stones, they keep on growing or they are getting more and more.

Kidney Stones: Records

The unofficial world record in terms of the number of kidney stones, is probably held by a Thai woman. She was removed in 2006 in an operation 421 kidney stones. Another record is held by a Canadian. Within 15 years he produced 3711 kidney stones. The heaviest kidney stone in the world is said to have weighed 356 grams.

Classification of kidney stones

Depending on the shape or composition you can distinguish different kidney stones. If one classifies the kidney stones according to their form, one distinguishes between valve stones, deer antler stones, coral stones or pouring stones. According to the composition they are in the categories calcium oxalate stones (65 percent), urate stones (uric acid stones, 15 percent), magnesium ammonium phosphate stones (struvite stones, 11 percent), which occur mainly in connection with infections and therefore also as Infected stones are classified, calcium phosphate stones (9 percent), cystine stones and xanthine stones (each 1 percent).

Kidney stones: diagnosis

Small kidney stones usually cause no problems. However, if the stones migrate into the ureter, they can become tight in tight places. This can lead to severe pain caused by spasmodic muscle contractions. This is also called a renal colic. In addition, the urine may have traces of blood. Unless one removes the kidney stone, it can come to a urine storm, through which the kidney is damaged. In addition, a pyelonephritis threatens.

Kidney stones are easy to see by ultrasound or X-ray, whereby the type of stone plays a role. Under the X-ray urate and xanthin stones can not be detected. Larger copies can also be felt depending on the location. Further, they can be detected by MRI, endoscopic examination or urinalysis.

Treatment of kidney stones

Smaller stones (under 6mm) can simply be washed out of the urine. Otherwise, the therapy depends on the type of stone. Larger stones are often smashed from the outside or in a local intervention by endoscopy with shock waves. The fragments are then eliminated with the urine. Uric acid and cystine stones can also be treated with medication. By means of chemolitholysis, the stones are gradually decomposed and excreted again as soon as they are small enough. Other methods such as loop extraction or surgery are rarely used thanks to modern therapy methods.

Prevent kidney stones

Anyone who has had kidney stones has a high probability of having them again. The recidivism rate is over 60 percent. In order to slow down the process or completely prevent the development, you should first drink enough (about 2-3l per day). This will dilute the urine. There are fewer deposits and the small stones are more easily washed out. It also helps regular exercise, reduce obesity and a healthy, high-fiber diet. The diet depends on the type of stones. In the case of uric acid stones, for example, you should largely refrain from meat, sausages, animal offal and legumes. For oxalate stones, you should eat less chocolate, cocoa, black tea, spinach or rhubarb. For calcium phosphate stones, it is better to reduce the intake of calcium-rich foods such as dairy products.

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