How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed

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Do you have kidney stones? You will never know until you are examined by a doctor because the symptoms associated with this problem are very similar to UTI or urinary tract infection.

So, you have to set an appointment with the doctor. While there, he or she will review your medical history and conduct a physical examination before running some tests.

If you are a regular patient of the doctor, it will be easy to pull your file out. However, if this is your first time, you will have to fill up the form and get your medical files.

Your medical history does not say much about kidney stones especially if you have never had this before which is why the next step is to conduct a physical examination. Here, the doctor will look at you physically and touch certain areas.  This is hard for the doctor to do if the patient is in extreme pain.

So the best way to confirm initial findings is through laboratory tests. The doctor will either extract blood or ask a urine sample from you.

You may also have to be scanned and there are a variety of machines for that. These include a computed tomography (CT) scan, intravenous pyelogram (IVP), retrograde pyelogram, and the regular X-ray.

The CT scan is used for various examinations. A scanner and a computer are used to create images of the urinary system. The only problem is that it has difficulty detecting small stones if they are located near the bladder. If a stone is found, an x-ray follows to determine the orientation, shape and size of the kidney stone.

Intravenous Pyelogram or IVP is done after a contrasting agent is injected into the vein. Within minutes, the test will show if there is a kidney stone blocking the ureter. This is perhaps the best method to check if you have kidney stones even if there is a slight risk for an allergic reaction to the fluid that was injected into the vein.

If you think that the ultrasound is only used to see the baby growing inside the womb, think again because it can also be used to detect a dilated upper urinary tract and kidney if the stone is lodged in the ureter. Its limitation is that it cannot detect kidney stones that are no longer in the kidney area.

Another term for retrograde pyelogram is a cytoscopy. The test begins by inserting a telescopic instrument into the bladder. Then, similar to the IVP, a contrast agent is injected into this opening and an x-ray is done to find the kidney stone.

Some doctors say this is better than IVP because there is no way to get an allergic reaction from the contrasting agent. This is because you will first be injected with anesthesia so in essence, you don’t feel anything.

Among the different tests done to detect kidney stones, this is only used when other tests have proven to be inadequate or unsuccessful.

It is only after careful diagnosis that doctors will be able to tell if you have kidney stones or not. From there, they can treat you by giving some medication or advising you to drink lots of water because you may be able to expel the stones on your own. But if this does not work, then surgery is the next option.

How to cure kidney stones

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As in any sickness, the key to the formation of kidney stones is in prevention especially since a person who had more than one kidney stone in her life will most likely develop kidney stones in the future. Regular check-up to the doctor is one way to ensure that all kinds of sickness are prevention. Paying extra for a regular set of tests like sugar, urine and blood tests will even better your chances of preventing certain conditions from developing. Think how less expensive that would be than when you actually become sick and you have to buy expensive medicines and pay a lot more for certain procedures.

Most kidney stones pass through the urinary system easily so drink lots and lots of water and do not mind going to the bathroom to urinate every now and then. Often times, people with kidney stones are only told to take lots of fluids and maybe some medication. Although the actual kidney stones are important in assessing the actual status so the patient may also be tasked to preserve their kidney stones and submit it for testing. Depending on the diagnosis, patient’s urine may also have to be analyzed for a whole day. Another day after initial medication or treatments are taken and done will also be set aside for another 24 hour urine analysis.

A change in lifestyle is also a very effective treatment. If you are not the type who drinks lots of fluids then it is high time that you learn to drink enough liquids in a day so that you will be able to produce at least 2 quarts of urine. While certain food are believed to contribute tot eh formation of kidney stones, moderation is really the key.

In the past, food high in calcium are shunned but recent studies have proven that calcium high foods including dairy products like milk can actually prevent formation of calcium stones. What should be watched out is the intake of calcium pills, food added with vitamin D and certain types of antacids that have a calcium base. A person who has a relatively high presence of acid in his urine is also advised to eat less meat, fish and poultry because eating these will further increase acid in urine.

There are medicines that maybe prescribed by doctors to somehow control the production of acid and alkali in urine. This is vital because acid or alkali are key factors in the forming of crystals. Allopurinol can be useful for cases of hyperuricosuria.

Hydrochlorothiazide favors calcium retention hence reducing the amount of calcium released by the kidneys which is in turn results to low or no formation of calcium tones. Sodium cellulose phosphate, on the other hand, secretes calcium in the intestines to prevent it from leaking to the urine.

As for surgical procedures in taking out kidney stones, the very popular procedure is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy or ESWL. This most frequently used procedure works when shock waves that are created outside the body travel into the skin and body tissues until they reach the denser stones. The shock causes the tones to break down in smaller particles so that they can easily pass through the urinary tract.

This sounds simple but potential risks and complications that may arise should always be discussed with the doctor before agreeing to go through the procedure.