Kidney stones: symptoms and causes
Kidney stones, or renal calculi, are solid formation, consisting from salts and minerals, developed in urinary tract. Typically, they are excreted from the body with the urine, and if the stones are small, the patient won’t even notice their presence. However, when the stones grow to more than 5 mm, they can block the ureter, causing severe pain, fever, blood in the urine and urinary difficulties. While several decades ago diagnosis of this disease was quite difficult, modern methods such as non-contrast helical CT scan allow to locate the stones exactly.
Kidney stone disease, or nephrolithiasis, can be caused by different reason, including following:
- insufficient intake of water is considered to be the main risk factor for developing the kidney stones,
- excessive consumption of animal proteins, sugars and salt is considered the second biggest factor,
- familial history of the disease,
- excessive body weight,
- lack of physical activity,
- some metabolic disorders, including Crohn’s disease or hyperparathyroidism can also provoke the onset.
Generally, the male patients are much more prone to the nephrolithiasis than female.
Treatment of kidney stones in Japan
Kidney stone disease is becoming a big problem in Japan for the latest years. While traditional Japanese cuisine is rich with plant proteins and fiber, currently it’s becoming too expensive and not affordable for many people. Changing to animal proteins, insufficient take of calcium and fiber, coming home late from the second part-time work and having late dinner, lack of physical activity significantly increase the risk of developing kidney stones. The Japanese Urological Association revealed that in 1965 approximately 43.7 Japanese people in 10000 of population were suffering from this disease, and now the proportion is 134 people in 10000 of population (尿路結石症診療ガイドライン 2013年).
Surprisingly, most of Japanese doctors recommend to wait the natural excretion of the stones if there aren’t any painful symptoms and the stones aren’t very big. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is used relatively seldom. Maintaining healthier lifestyle and using analgesics are still the most popular recommendations. However, if the patient is disturbed by pain, the following medicines can be prescribed. Urocalun capsules suppresses growth of stone, provides lithontriptic effect and promotes expulsion of renal and ureteral stones. Tamsulosin hydrochloride tablets help to expulse kidney stones, to shorten the expulsion time and to decrease pain intensity. The best treatment regimen should be chosen by doctor in charge according to patient’s disease, symptoms and health condition.