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Your kidneys help flush out waste and fluid from the blood in the form of urine. But there are many problems that can interrupt this process and one of them is kidney stones, which are solid masses made of crystals. Kidney stones tend to form on your kidneys and can also develop on the bladder and urethra. Kidney stones are a commonly occurring problem in many people, but it can lead to chronic kidney disease and ultimately kidney failure, if not treated on time. It is, therefore, essential to watch your fluid intake, follow a well-balanced diet, take calcium in the recommended amounts and go for regular screening to avoid kidney problems occurring in the future.
"50% of the people with kidney stones may encounter some degree of kidney failure problem in later life if the stones are not addressed at the right time," said Dr Tarun Jain, Urologist, Apollo Spectra Mumbai.
"Moreover, 12% of the total population is prone to urinary stones and that is also a matter of concern," he added.
Not drinking enough water, being obese, having a family history of kidney stones, certain medications, certain bowel conditions like Chron's disease, polycystic kidney disease, and high levels of uric acid and calcium can result in the formation of kidney stones.
If you have kidney stones, you may experience symptoms such as painful urination, bloody urine, nausea, vomiting, and frequent urge of urination. Having kidney stones can increase your chances of suffering from chronic kidney disease. Your kidney may stop working, which can lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) also known as kidney failure.
The treatment for kidney stones may vary depending on the type of stone on has. According to Dr Jain, one will be suggested medical management or endoscopic procedure surgical advances like laser and flexible scopes to check each and every aspect of the kidney for stones. "These are painless day-care procedures and the patient can resume to his normal routine within a day," the expert asserted.
To prevent kidney stones, Dr Jain suggested that one should drink enough fluids (opt for low-calorie drinks), exercise daily, restrict the amount of salt in the diet and give up on processed and junk food. "Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, pulses, and whole grains and monitor your calcium intake as going overboard is a strict no no. Those with kidney stones should go for regular screening to avoid kidney failure. The symptoms of kidney failure arise late so it is imperative to schedule regular follow-ups," he added.
Kidney problems are associated with diabetes and are seen commonly in diabetic patients. "Almost 30 per cent of patients with diabetes develop kidney problems," said Dr Sanjay Ingle, Pathologist, and Zonal Technical Head West India, Apollo Diagnostics, Pune.
Usually, patients develop kidney problems 5-10 years after diagnosis of diabetes. Monitoring Microalbumin and microalbumin creatinine ratio after every 6 months help to diagnose early changes to prevent kidney failure, Dr Ingle noted.
"These tests should ideally be carried out in newly diagnosed diabetic patients. But older patients can also undergo this test. These tests indicate early changes in kidney function which can alert one to take measures like monitoring sugar levels and blood pressure, maintaining an optimum weight, reducing your salt intake, eating a healthy diet, cutting down on smoking and alcohol, exercising daily, and staying stress-free to prevent kidney failure," he added.
Most people living with kidney problems are unaware of them. Blood in urine, kidney stones, acute kidney injury (AKI), kidney pain and infection, and having protein in the urine are some of the potential signs of having kidney disease. Other symptoms may include fatigue, itchy skin, decreased urine output, abdominal pain, urinary tract infections (UTIs), poor appetite, and swelling of the ankle and feet, said Dr Ingle.
Watch out for these symptoms so that problems can be addressed early on.