Chennai Kidney Care

Can kidney stones be dissolved by medicines?

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are hard stone-like masses made of minerals that get formed in the kidneys. Our urine has wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too less liquid, the waste or dissolved crystals clump together to make stones. Kidney stone can be one or many and can range in size from being as small as a grain of sand to as large as golf ball. When small in size, the kidney stone may move out of the body unnoticed through urine with little or no pain. However, if the kidney stone grows in size and becomes big, it can get stuck in the urinary tract and block urine causing discomfort and extreme pain.

What are the risk factors?

A family history of kidney stones is likely to increase the chances of developing kidney stones. Men are more likely to develop kidney stones than women. A diet that is rich in salt or proteins can increase the chances. There is also a higher probability in individuals who drink less than one litre of water per day and those living in dry and warm climates as these conditions lead to dehydration. Other risk factors include increased body weight, intake of certain supplements and medications (dietary supplements, excess use of laxatives, calcium based antacids, etc.), digestive diseases and surgery and so on. Also, individuals who have had a history of kidney stone are more likely to develop another. Kidney stones are quite common in kids as young as 5years. Doctors attribute it to two main reasons – not consuming enough water and eating salt-rich foods such as fries and potato chips.

Can kidney stones be dissolved by medicines?

It is a myth the kidney stones can be dissolved with help of medicines as till date, no medicine has been formulated which can make the kidney stone disappear completely. However, medications such as painkillers are prescribed to reduce the associated pain and nausea. Another group of medications called calcium channel blockers and alpha blockers may also be advised to relax the ureter (the tube through which urine passes from kidney to bladder). This can aid the stone to move swiftly and easily through a wider ureter.

Then how is kidney stone treated?

The treatment is planned based on the size of the stone. Small stones can be flushed out of the body by drinking plenty of water (around eight to ten glasses per day). This will increase the urinary output and help in getting the small stone/s out of the system. It is important to remember that the smaller the stone, the easier to get it out without any intervention.

When the kidney stone is large and causing difficulty in passing urine, shock wave therapy, also known as lithotripsy is recommended. The procedure is carried out under the cover of anaesthesia. With help of an x-ray or ultrasound, shock waves are targeted at the large stone causing the stone to break into pieces. Over the weeks, the small fragments of the broken stone pass out through the urine.

Another procedure called ureteroscopy is also recommended in cases of large stones. Under anaesthesia, a thin flexible tube is introduced through the penis and passed through urethra, bladder and then to ureter to reach the stone. If the stone is relatively small, the doctor is able to scoop it into a surgical basket and if large, they are broken down with help of laser.

In rare cases where the stones are many, very large, heavy and/or in remote location, a surgical process called percutaneous nephrolithotomy is considered. In this procedure, a small incision is made in the back and a tube is directly inserted into the kidney and the stone is removed without breaking it into pieces.  

What are the complications of kidney stones?

Complications are most likely to develop if kidney stones are left untreated for a while. The kidney stone blocks the passage of urine and this in return can result in urinary tract infections or kidney problems. If kidney stones keep getting formed repeatedly, it can increase the chances of long term kidney diseases.

How can kidney stones be prevented?

The easiest way to prevent the formation of kidney stones is by keeping the body well hydrated. Drinking at least 1 litre of water everyday helps to flush the kidneys regularly. You can know that you are drinking enough amount of water and that your body is adequately hydrated when the urine that you pass appears light yellow to clear instead of darker coloured urine. A diet rich with fruits and vegetables makes the urine less acidic which reduces the chances of kidney stone formation. Additionally, salt-rich food items such as cheese, chips, fries, frozen foods and meat, pickles, etc. should be consumed in moderation.

Conclusion:

The formation of kidney stones in the body is quite common and the pain associated with it can be unbearable. Learning about kidneys and having the knowledge about how these stones get formed and how with simple lifestyle changes, the formation of these kidney stones can be prevented can make you feel more in control of your life.

Chennai kidney care offers complete support and care for all types of kidney diseases such as kidney stones, kidney failure and kidney diseases in children and adults to name a few. The hospital boasts of expert term of nephrologists and urologists who are backed with state-of-art-facilities. The team has special expertise in performing kidney stone related treatment procedures such as lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithotomy and so on. A special emphasis is laid on complete post-operative care so as to ensure speedy and complete recovery and reduce chances of relapse in the affected individuals.