The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, and the urethra. The kidneys are the organs that get rid of our body waste in the form of urine. There are two kidneys, one on either side of the spine under the lower ribs. The ureters carry the urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Urine is stored in the urinary bladder until urination occurs. It passes out of the body through a tube called the urethra. Stones can form anywhere in the urinary system
Kidney stones may remain without any symptoms for a long time. They may present with episodes of severe pain that usually starts suddenly in the lower back under the ribs or in the lower abdomen, and moves to the groin. The pain, which is often associated with vomiting, may last for minutes or hours, followed by periods of relief. Its a flank pain. The stones may cause blood to appear in the urine. If there is associated urinary tract infection, there may be burning during urination associated with an urge to urinate.
Most small stones (measuring <5 mm in size) usually pass through the body by themselves within hours or a few days. Drinking lots of fluids helps this process. Certain types of stones can be dissolved using medications. However, the most common stones (those containing calcium) cannot be dissolved. Stones that do not pass by themselves and cause obstruction of the urinary tract with resulting symptoms of pain/discomfort or/ and swelling of the kidney and the related urinary tract treatment, do require intervention. One method of treatment is a non-surgical technique called Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) that uses high-energy shock waves to break the stones into small fragments like sand. This stone dust then passes with urine during the next few weeks. This treatment can be successfully used in many cases where the stones are relatively small.
What is the prevention?
Certain precautions can be taken to help prevent the formation of kidney stones. If there are no underlying health problems, then consuming at least 2 liters of fluid on a daily basis along with a low salt diet helps to prevent recurrent stone formation. In case of calcium oxalate stones, very large amounts of dairy products or foods high in oxalates (like tea or chocolate) should not be consumed. Red meat must be restricted in cases of uric acid stones.